Eletropaulo Plans Biggest Brazil Smart Grid to Fight Power Theft

Eletropaulo Metropolitana de Eletricidade de Sao Paulo SA, Brazil’s biggest power distributor by market value, will invest 72 million reais ($36 million) through 2015 in the country’s largest smart-grid project to help curb electricity theft.

Eletropaulo will install 60,000 meters that use wireless technology to remotely monitor power consumption in all residential, commercial and industrial buildings in Barueri, a Sao Paulo suburb, President Britaldo Pedrosa Soares said today at an event announcing the project.

The wireless devices will let Eletropaulo identify clients that are stealing power and cut them off remotely, without sending employees to check meters in person, Soares said. The AES Corp. unit, which loses 3.8 percent of its power to thieves, expects the meters to pay for themselves in about eight years.

“We did all the studies and this investment made sense,” Sidney Simonaggio, vice president of operations at Eletropaulo, said at the event. “The idea is to replicate this project in other areas.”

Eletropaulo, based in Sao Paulo, will invest 37 million reais from funds it’s required under Brazilian law to spend on research and development, Soares said. The rest will come from a rate increase that will be determined later.

Eletropaulo hasn’t decided what technology to use. It will announce by the end of June the required technical specifications and plans to begin installing meters next year that let customers manage their power consumption. The company also will install a basic model designed to detect theft for about 2,100 low-income families starting in June.

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