CODENSA: Much more than energy


Alfonso Lugo

CODENSA is the largest electricity supply company in Colombia, with a service area of approximately 14,000 km2 and 2.1 million customers. Since its establishment in 1997, CODENSA has been focusing on energy efficiency, high quality services, excellent environmental management, and new products and services. Thus new metering strategies have been developed to protect company revenues.

CODENSA operates in the Colombian electricity market, distributing and retailing energy services to residential, industrial and commercial customers. The company also offers value-added services to all its 2.1 million customers – 8 million people – in households and businesses across its network in Bogotá and 96 adjacent municipalities.

The infrastructure consists of 40,511 km of high, medium and low voltage electrical network, and transformation capacity of 13,678 MVA. This allowed the company to sell 6,207 GWh of electricity during 2005.

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Figure 1. CODENSA’s electricity services area

After eight years of operation, strong results have been delivered. One of the most important achievements has been to reduce non-technical energy losses from 22.5 per cent in 1997 to 8.9 per cent today. As a consequence new metering strategies, such as macro-metering, split metering, prepayment metering, and meter data management (MDM) have appeared in order to keep energy losses at tolerable levels.

First, the macro-metering strategy requires the installation of meters at the low voltage side on distribution transformers, enabling the company to localize, detect and control energy losses. This allows the energy delivered by the transformers to be compared with the energy billed by the utility – a solution known as energy balance, and an effective supervisory system for energy losses.

In addition, energy balance provides enough information to determine maximum investment levels by transformer for each level of energy lost into a profitable scenario. The aim of the investment is to avoid energy losses by making electrical networks less vulnerable and preventing meter tampering.

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Figure 2. Macro-metering strategy

Secondly, split metering refers to metering devices being installed outside the premises, for example on a pole. This metering strategy is looking to minimize meter tampering and as a result to control energy losses.

The split meter separates the user interface unit (UIU) from the main body of the meter, called the measurement and control unit (MCU). Split metering communication platforms between UIU device and MCU device can vary, depending on the provider. However, split-metering is an emerging technology that needs to advance into commercial and industrial markets.

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Figure 3. Split-metering strategy

Thirdly, prepayment metering, which is strongly related to split meters, retains all its benefits and offers customers added value by allowing them to budget for their energy consumption.

CODENSA has developed a trial of prepayment metering involving 285 customers. In contrast to split metering, prepayment metering has not been used as a technology to control energy losses.

Finally, meter data management refers to the latest trends used by energy utilities to exploit meter data and customer information for customer service applications, demand side planning, network maintenance, planning and operations, and outage management.

In contrast to other metering strategies, MDM utilizes all the information generated by every meter on the electrical system efficiently. This strategy does not depend on which meter is out there – it is based on establishing a data repository or data warehouse, and making smart use of the information it contains.

CODENSA has developed two main projects as part of its MDM strategy. The first one involves scoring of customer’s debt, and the second is a supervisory control system of energy losses in combination with macro-metering.