By Jonathan Spencer Jones
With the opening of the Metering, Billing/CRM Latin America in São Paulo, this event and the magazine Smart Energy International América Latina reach an important milestone with their tenth anniversaries.
With the speed with which time passes it seems like only yesterday that we were venturing into this exciting and dynamic region, making many new – and now long standing – friends and colleagues along the way. In that time the market has seen many changes with the move towards smart metering and smart grids and the exciting prospects, some still in the realms of science fiction a decade ago, that these offer, both for the utility companies providing them and consumers in general.
Yet the old adage that “the more things change, the more they stay the same” remains true. And losses, largely due to theft but also ageing infrastructure, remain a major problem in Latin America – as they did 10 years ago and indeed they do in other developing nations.
There are also some surprises and one is that prepayment, which was a focus at the first Metering Latin America event, has failed to attract the attention that was expected, except in certain countries such as Colombia and Dominican Republic, where it has proved popular with consumers.
While heritage and language bring similarities to Latin America it nevertheless remains a region of diverse countries with different economic and social conditions. At a regional level several initiatives are working towards closer energy integration but “on the ground” there is no universal solution. Each country, indeed each utility, must strive for the solutions that are cost effective for itself and its customers. And that is where the magazine and events come in, in connecting players from across the value chain with each other to share and learn.
Metering, Billing/CRM Latin America is taking place in São Paulo, Brazil August 21-23.