The last year was very satisfactory in many aspects for Chilectra, according to its president Jorge Rosenblut and director general Rafael López, commenting in the company’s recently released sustainability report for 2007.

“Our labors bring us short term benefits, but here in Chilectra we are working to a long term vision,” say Rosenblut and López. “That is what drives us.”

Chilectra, based in Chile’s capital Santiago, is the country’s largest electric utility in terms of electricity sales, with almost 1.5 million customers in 33 municipalities in a concession area of 2,037 km2 in the Santiago metropolitan region. Part of the Enersis group – which in Latin America includes Edesur in Argentina, Ampla and Coelce in Brazil, Edelnor in Peru, and Codensa in Colombia – its origins can be traced back to the 1890s when the first electric services were introduced in Santiago.

In the 87 years since Chilectra was established (on September 1, 1921) its business has been the distribution and sale of electricity with the mission of creating an environment that provides a high level of quality of life to its inhabitants.

With the elaboration of its strategic plan for the 21st century in 2004 Chilectra formally introduced the policy of “sustainability”, with commitments to its conduct, the environment, innovation and energy efficiency, its shareholders, employees, customers, and society in general. Resultant highlights in 2007 were being the top rated utility with more than 100,000 customers in Chile by the market administrator, the Superintendencia de Electricidad y Combustibles (SEC), and the award of the Avonni prize as the most innovative company in Chile from the Forum for Innovation.

One of the areas of focus for Chilectra during 2007 was the on going control of losses, which at 5.9 percent during the year were among the lowest in the group in Latin America and around half the regional average (11.2 percent). The main measures adopted during the year included the network with concentrated connection and electronic metering (red con acometida concentrada y medida electrónica, ACME), the provision of a mobile community advice center, the collection of personal information by meter readers, and the normalization of supply to vulnerable customers (less than 2 percent of people in Chilectra’s concession being without electric supply).

Large customers (>500 kW) of which Chilectra has more than 1,500 – and which account for about 40 percent of electric sales – also came in for attention during the past year. These customers are being provided with innovative AMR systems, which provide 15 minute interval reading and in the case of a cut in supply the system will send a message to the plant manager at the relevant company. Each large customer has been assigned a company executive to attend to their requirements, and they are also provided with energy efficiency advice and services.

For the largest customers among the new products was the “Active world” (Mundo Activa) program, through which zero-cost credit cards are made available to customers in the middle and emerging segments to enable them to acquire electronic goods and appliances.

Steps were also taken to improve customer service in general and in 98.5 percent of the customer queries it was possible to resolve these on first contact. In addition Chilectra continued to work with customer organizations and its customer committee to ensure that customer needs are being met.

In line with its strategic plan Chilectra has assumed the responsibility to contribute proactively to the creation of a culture of energy efficiency, directing its actions to its full spectrum of customers and to all types of energy. The goal is to become the promoting agent for energy efficiency, with the aim of contributing to the sustainable development of the country through the creation of awareness among users.

In line with this the company incorporated energy efficiency explicitly in its 2007 strategic plan, with a special emphasis on educational activities. Among other activities during the year a “Home plus” tariff was introduced, with differential prices for high and low demand periods, and a pilot program was launched to evaluate the effects of large scale energy efficient lighting in homes. An energy efficiency guide is also in preparation for distribution to colleges in the metropolitan area.

Looking to the longer term – over the next decade – and following world trends, Chilectra has also initiated studies on smart grids and on small scale distributed generation, while another area of focus is the impact of population and demand growth in Santiago and the locations of new infrastructure, such as substations.

“Our great aspiration is a subterranean network, but this is for the long term,” say Rosenblut and López. “According to stakeholders with various interests this is not feasible in the short term given the high costs involved in a project of this magnitude.”

But despite the achievements there is no reason to relax. “We feel that we still have great challenges to confront and overcome: to be the best utility in the country, a well recognized brand, and the most efficient company,” say Rosenblut and López. “We are aware that we are a very important undertaking for the citizenry and that we deliver a unique service. We are a group that is passionate about what we do. We are ambassadors for our brand and our enthusiasm is enough for us to give 100%; and we enjoy it when we are recognized.”