Brazil ramps up smart grid efforts
By: SGN Staff
Quick Take: The folks at cityminded.org track all things smart city, including urban smart grids. A recent post suggests that Brazil may finally make the transition from smart grid talk, talk, talk to actual, on-the-ground targets. - By Jesse Berst
Smart grids are coming to pass in Brazil. Two recent events confirm this trend. AES Eletropaulo, the biggest power distribution company in Latin America in terms of consumption, has announced a smart grid project that is not only the largest in the number of customers, but also the first to focus on a metropolitan area. Second, Brazilâ€™s federal government launched Inova Energia, a US$1.4 billion plan aimed at fostering innovation in the electric sector.
AES Eletropaulo will invest $32 million by 2015 to provide 60,000 customers in Barueri with smart meters. With a population of over 250,000 residents and located just 30km away from SÃ£o Paulo, the city was chosen largely due to its characteristic as a complex urban center. With the new systems, the utility will be able to identify interruptions automatically and make repairs remotely whenever possible.
Tackling energy theft head on
The first group receiving new meters is comprised of 2,100 families and small businesses that are making use of illegal connections to source energy, mainly in in low income communities. Since 2004, the company has led the regularization of more than 500,000 connections at a cost of $380 million reais ($170 million) to bring access to legal and safe energy in 288 communities in the Greater SÃ£o Paulo area. Under the name of â€œTransforming Consumers into Clientsâ€, the program enables families to have a proof of residence through their electricity bills, as well as provides education on energy efficiency and electricity-related accident prevention.
"Energy loss and theft can definitely leverage smart grids in Brazil," says Paulo Pimentel, Smart Grid Project Manager at AES Eletropaulo. The estimated additional revenue to be captured with the help of new technologies was key in the design of a financially solid project.
Jesse Berst is the founder and Chief Analyst of SGN and Chairman of the Smart Cities Council, an industry coalition.
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