September 30, 2010 - The winners of the Smart Energy International’s Latin American Excellence Awards for 2010 were announced at the 8th Metering, Billing/CRM Latin America this week.

In the advanced metering category the winner is Light, the electric utility of Rio de Janeiro, for its Optimus project aimed at accelerating the rollout of advanced metering. Light embarked on the project with two aims, to reduce non-technical losses and to harness the benefits that smart meters can bring. Working with Choice, Light developed Optimus in which modelling is used to develop an optimum rollout plan in order to maximize the return on the investment. Modelling in an area around four substations shows that with Optimus approximately a quarter more customers could receive smart meters than under a traditional rollout with a 71% increase in benefits over costs. The technique has now been awarded as provisional patent.

In the revenue protection category the winner is also Light for its project Revenue Protection Intelligence Center. Light was suffering nontechnical losses as large as 21% in 2007. Again working with Choice, Light started working on a dedicated Intelligence Center to reduce losses, with a group of eights specialists using specially developed software based on best practices for revenue recovery, which had to be fully integrated into the company’s IT systems. Among the results in 2008 and 2009 the extra revenue recovered was R$63 million and further increases are expected in the current year.

In the customer service category the winner is Águas Guariroba, for its Transforming and Attending project “How to satisfy the customer.” The company was keen to improve its customer service and has embarked on a number of actions, including installing new software for analyzing and displaying usage data, introducing “adopt a customer” in which frontline staff commit to working with individual customers to resolve problems, and introducing an outreach program with a travelling attention center that can be taken into the community. Among the results to date are a reduction of irregularities and improvements in billing and revenue collection.

The 8th Metering, Billing/CRM Latin America and collocated Water Meter Summit and Smart Grids Latin America is taking place in São Paulo, Brazil, 28 through 30 September.