Brazil rejects UK 'big bang' smart meter rollout

The UK government is spending £12.1bn of taxpayers' money to finance a smart metering system for the private utility companies, but that isn't going to happen in Brazil, one of the world's biggest economies.

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The UK government is spending £12.1bn of taxpayers' money to finance a smart metering system for the private utility companies, but that isn't going to happen in Brazil, one of the world's biggest economies.

On a SAP technology innovation tour of Brazil this week, one of Latin America's largest power companies said it wouldn't be following the UK's "big bang" approach in helping to roll out a national smart metering system.

Smart meters promise to give customers more accurate bills, give utility companies the knock-on benefit of streamlining billing through remote reading, and have the potential positive effect on the environment by encouraging customers to reduce their energy usage, by continually showing the actual cost of their consumption.

But despite the financial benefits to energy providers, UK utility companies refused to pay for a national smart metering system, and the government stepped in with the cash to finance one, as part of a green drive pushed by the coalition's Liberal Democrats and environmentalists.

In Brazil it's a different story though, with energy giant AES Eletropaulo saying it is only committed to limited smart metering trials aimed at a few thousand users at a time.

AES is the regional provider that powers Brazil's largest city of Sao Paulo, which has 20 million people, and other cities, and parent AES Brasil is one of Latin America's largest power companies.

AES Eletropaulo CIO Antonio Jose Narvaez Romero told ComputerworldUK: "We first want to work with our technology providers - which include SAP - to develop new features to support efficient smart metering, we are not looking at a 'big bang' approach seen in other countries."

No money has been forthcoming from the Brazilian government to support smart metering, and all AES' efforts so far have been self-financed, and Romero said he expected it would remain that way.

SAP software currently supports the AES "smart grid" it is gradually building out to take remote meter readings and generate paper and digital bills for customers.

As many large companies in the UK struggle to migrate to Windows 7 from earlier versions of the Windows OS, Romero also said AES Eletropaulo had updated around 80 percent of its desktops, laptops and other devices used by its 4,000 staff to Windows 7.

The Windows 7 upgrade would be completed across the company by the end of the year, said Romero.

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