Brasilia, Brazil — (METERING.COM) — February 5, 2009 – Brazil’s regulatory agency Aneel (Agéncia Nacional de Energia Elétrica) has launched a public consultation on the deployment of electronic metering in homes and on other low voltage connections such as schools, hospitals and shops.

The consultation is the next step in a process that was initiated with an international seminar on electronic metering last September, Aneel says (see Towards smart metering in Brazil). At that event among the key points that emerged was that regulations on the implementation of electronic metering must conform to the individual country’s regulatory structure. Furthermore, the absence of regulation, on issues such as the form of deployment and economic recovery, could hinder the deployment of electronic metering. Given that the introduction of electronic metering would change the way the distributor manages its network and the way the consumer operates within the market, as well as the relationships between both the regulator and distributor and the distributor and consumer, Aneel believes that consumers should have the opportunity to provide input for consideration in the formulation of regulations.

To date approximately 4.8 million electronic meters have been acquired in Brazil, of which just over 4 million are installed – about 7.4 percent of the total meter park – mainly for HV customers, according to Aneel. Electronic metering is mandatory for free market consumers, for example, as well as at the concession boundaries of distributors. However, the majority of these meters measure only active energy and assist in the fight against theft and few measure other parameters – only 2.4 percent provide hourly consumption data, for example.

In a review document for the consultation, Aneel outlines a cost-benefit analysis to replace all 62 million meters on the low voltage network that will be undertaken. Benefits that will be considered include remote reading, remote disconnection and reconnection, technical and non-technical loss reduction, and savings due to changing consumer habits. Some inputs, such as the expected lifetime of electronic meters, are as yet undefined, while others, such as potential loss reductions, will need to be determined through pilot projects. Aneel suggests, given the diversity of geographic, climatic and socio-economic conditions in the country, that pilots should be conducted across the various concessions.

Turning to regulatory issues Aneel say that issues to be considered include whether meter rollout should be determined by business strategy or regulation, whether rollout should be to all customers or only those with higher consumption, and whether deadlines should be set. A public awareness campaign is also necessary and could be undertaken by the distributors together with Aneel.

Consumers are invited to make input on any aspect of the discussion. In particular they are asked to comment on issues such as the functionality and features of electronic meters in Brazil, privacy issues, the scale and locations of pilot projects, new tariff structures, and the extent of electronic meter rollout in Brazil.

A period of 90 days has been granted for the consultation. Thereafter, any proposed regulatory changes will be subject to a public hearing.

“Electronic metering is a worldwide trend. Among the many benefits that can be expected include improved quality of service and efficient use of the system,” Aneel says. “However, mass rollout requires large, long term investments. Thus, simply our analysis must conclude that the benefits of the technology outweigh its costs and that it does not impact unduly on the tariffs for the final consumers.”