GPL’s smart meters uncover ‘worrying’ consumption patterns

-company preparing to act on findings, says Dindyal

The Guyana Power and Light Inc (GPL) is preparing to act on the “worrying” data uncovered by its smart meters, according to Chief Executive Officer Bharat Dindyal, who announced the start of an investigation yesterday.

Speaking at a public forum on the power company’s performance yesterday, Dindyal said he expects to see changes as a result of the data generated by the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) meters, which the company expects to help it reduce its losses considerably. System losses cost GPL over $7 billion last year.

GPL began installing AMI meters last year as part of a pilot project and by last December most of the meters had been installed. Dindyal said that the infrastructure was installed in one of Region Four’s business centers, although he declined to say which one. He noted that the company was preparing to act on its findings and will soon confront those under observation with its findings.

“What I saw yesterday was worrying but it is also interesting because we are seeing so much,” Dindyal told reporters after a presentation. He explained that the smart meters are fitted with sophisticated features, which allow it to gather information on the consumption behaviour of customers. The meters are also fitted with a communication link with allows it to feed vast amounts of information collected by the meter to servers in GPL’s offices in real time.

Dindyal added that the information is then mined by special software, after which specific information is picked out and used to compile actionable reports. “We’re seeing patterns of consumption which are inconsistent with a business… it’s like me coming in the morning and I open my business, you would expect to see the power consumption jump up, you would see (that) pattern during the day, you’re not seeing that,” the CEO explained.

“You’re seeing cases where the customer comes in and…you’re seeing a sudden reduction, a dramatic reduction in consumption, so the meters out there are not foil-proof but they give you all the intelligence which is helpful,” he further said.

He also revealed that the commercial customers, whose consumption patterns are being monitored, are aware that they were fitted with AMI meters, but are not aware of the meters’ capabilities. The decision to not reveal the area in which the meters have been installed is aimed that keeping those under observation unaware of the fact that they are being watched.

Not only do the meters monitor the patters of a particular consumer, it also monitors the all the power which passes through the transformer to which it is attached, and shows the losses for every transformer. The meters also enable GPL to monitor the quality of power flowing to an area, or ascertain when power outages occur. “We’re seeing cases where all the meters on a particular transformer are live and suddenly one goes out, so there is no reason why that one should go, meaning that they suffered a power failure,” he noted.

Last November, GPL announced plans to install 2,000 of the smart meters as part of the first phase of its AMI pilot programme. The company said the meters would be installed in the Georgetown commercial zone from Avenue of the Republic to Vlissengen Road and from North Road to South Road, including Regent, Robb and Charlotte streets.

It is financed under a loan agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank and facilitated by the Government of Guyana for the sustainable operation of the electricity sector and enhanced quality of service. The programme aims to provide customers with more accurate meter reading every month, information about their energy usage and a system for recognising power outages without customer input.

GPL, eventually, wants to extend its smart metering coverage countrywide, as the company believes that in addition to helping reduce losses, it will serve as a platform to eliminate manual meter reading, provide remote monitoring of the electric distribution systems and enable customers to manage their bills by tracking their consumption and demand via the internet.

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