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Hong Kong’s ATC International May Open Brazil Smart-Meter Plant

ATC International Group Ltd., a Chinese maker of smart meters, may build a factory in Brazil to meet the country’s growing demand for the electronic power gauges.

ATC is waiting for the government to issue rules specifying minimum technical requirements for smart meters before deciding to build a plant, David Y.N. Liang, the Hong Kong-based company’s chief executive officer, said today in a telephone interview.

The rules may be issued early next year and if ATC moves forward, it may partner with a local company to open a plant in early 2013, he said. Brazil is seeking to replace all 63 million of its standard meters with electronic ones with wireless capabilities in an effort to fight electricity theft, he said.

“Brazil will become one of the world’s top five markets” for smart meters, he said. “It’s sizable. We’ll use it as a base for expansion” into other South American countries.

ATC’s partner “may build the factory, we may provide the production equipment,” Liang said.

Utilities are using smart meters to spot houses that are illegally tapping electricity from the grid and then remotely disconnecting them, he said.

A national smart-meter replacement program may be announced by Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy by the end of 2012, Andre Pepitone da Nobrega, director of electricity regulator Agencia Nacional de Energia Eletrica, said Oct. 28.

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