Denis Maia,
President,
Choice Tecnologia
 
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil — (METERING.COM) — August 12, 2008 – There is no single solution that can address losses in utilities in Latin America and a whole range of solutions are necessary, according to participants in the 6th Metering, Billing/CRM Latin America pre-conference seminar on revenue protection.

Opening the seminar Denis Maia, president of energy intelligence company Choice Tecnologia, commented that non-technical losses in Brazil appear to have stabilised for the past four years at just over 8 percent, with a cost of R$7.6 billion (US$4.6 billion) – and despite billions in investments to combat them.

Maia suggested that “a new paradigm” is needed to address this “complex problem,” with input at institutional, social, technological, legal and management levels and both financial and human resources.

Maia also commented on the role of “intelligence” in addressing losses, saying that it permits the optimization of the existing resources.

José Geraldo Pereira reviewed a “double strategy” to combat losses at Rio de Janeiro utility Light. In recent years non-technical losses had increased by more than 40 percent and amounted to 4,787 GWh in 2007 – more than half of this in areas of “risk” with high population density and high crime. Since 2002 Light has introduced various strategies to combat losses, including the installation of external meters and energy balance meters and field inspections at customers’ premises. In the period 2008-2011 it is planned to invest R$850 million (US$505 million) in combating losses, including the installation of an AMR network alongside the ongoing field inspections and other “traditional” activities.

Gas meters are also subject to fraud and customers can be “very inventive” when it comes to meter tampering, said Manoel Messias Pantaleão from the special management division of Rio de Janeiro gas utility CEG.

Ricardo Caratti, regional manager from Argentina’s gas regulator Enargas, said that both preventive and management actions are required to combat gas meter tampering. Preventive actions should include field inspections and investigations – the number based on the level of risk – while management actions should include the establishment of efficient processes for dealing with cases and recovering the costs incurred.

“The efficiency of preventive actions is key for sustainability of the utility, while management actions should be transparent and both protect the rights of the customer and protect the meter,” said Caratti.

Metering, Billing/CRM Latin America, taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, opens today with a keynote by Ronaldo Schuck, energy secretary in the country’s ministry of minerals and energy, and an executive panel discussion on the transformation of the utility industry as a result of new advanced in metering, billing and customer management, while the conference sessions will focus on strategic and regulatory issues and the metering environment in Latin America. The two-day industry exhibition also will open.