The revelation came from CEO Bharat Dindyal on Friday at public presentation on the corporation’s operations for last year and the first quarter of 2014.
“There is a very large project being developed, in fact we expect before the end of the year disbursement to start, this is over US$60M. It is by far the largest loss reduction in this sector and in fact it is one of the largest loss reduction efforts in this part of the world,” he told the gathering at Duke Lodge.
The funds, 50 percent grant and 50 percent concessionary loan, are coming from the European Union and the IDB and have already been secured by the government. Dindyal said a special unit will be set up to implement the five-year project.
He added that the intention was to address the issue in a coordinated manner with turnkey projects awarded to contractors to address the technical and non-technical losses. It will include network upgrades as well as installation of smart meters.
“The target is having done these investments in these areas that we’ll be able to bring down overall losses to eight percent, five percent technical, three percent nontechnical. It’s ambitious but as you recognise we are taking a highly technological approach to dealing with the losses.”
According to the CEO, the networks would be designed to be “fraud-proof” and coupled with the smart metering system it is expected that losses would be reduced. The smart metering or Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) allows GPL to gauge a consumer’s electricity consumption in order to detect anomalies.
Dindyal explained that the smart meters, currently in use in a pilot project started December last, sends information back to a server at GPL where the data is mined to decipher the usage patterns of consumers.
“We’re seeing cases where all the meters on a particular transformer are live and suddenly one goes out and there’s no reason why that one should go out so we could only surmise what happened.
It is tracking your consumption hour by hour and we’re seeing patterns of consumption which are inconsistent with a business. It’s like me coming in the morning and opening my business, you’d expect to see the power consumption jump up and you’d see a pattern during the day, you’re not seeing that.”
The investigation into the findings was expected to start on Friday with the CEO saying they will be targeting those areas where the feedback indicates high losses from the transformers to the consumers. He added that they will be looking to prosecute those found culpable.
Information shared show that there were 489 arrests for electricity theft in 2013 with 39 persons convicted but Dindyal noted that there was still some 1,200 cases pending in the court. He revealed that current losses have been pegged at 30.5 percent of production with Region Four accounting for 73 percent of that amount.