When trust helps development
A new solution for an old problem
In the Reta Velha neighbourhood in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), energy thefts and electricity network disruptions are related to social problems. Enel has conceived an innovative method to respond to this problem, originating from direct relations with the local population and the promotion of initiatives for social inclusion, education and awareness about the use of energy.
Energy thefts and network losses are a longstanding and important issue in many parts of Brazil. In particular where the widespread episodes of violence and delinquency are hindering access for technicians who should perform routine maintenance operations of the electricity network.
“In Brazil, energy thefts and network losses are an important issue where the widespread violence and delinquency hinder even the ordinary maintenance of electricity lines.”
The Reta Velha project
The integrated approach of the Reta Velha project combines technical operations and social action benefitting the community that lives in the area after which it is named. This neighbourhood in the Itaboraí in the metropolitan area of Rio de Janeiro, inhabited by some 5,300 people, in 2013 recorded a network loss rate of 73.4%.
We launched the project in 2014 and started it by mapping the area and the related risk analysis, identifying both the most critical areas and those with the greatest aggregation centres: schools, hospitals and churches.
“Reta Velha has produced economic benefits for the neighbourhood community and has led to a 66 point reduction of the network loss percentage rate, which in 2014 fell to 7.4%, among the lowest in the region”
In order to extend the possibility of direct relations with the community we involved a local NGO working on projects in areas with political and social conflicts. We used a mobile office to meet customers in their area, listening to their specific needs and replying to them.
The social actions that we carried out included initiatives such as the replacement of old electric appliances with new ones consuming less energy.
Awareness and cooperation
Only one year after it was launched, Reta Velha has already produced economic benefits for the neighbourhood community and has led to a 66 point reduction of of the network loss percentage rate, which in 2014 fell to 7.4%, among the lowest in the region.
We are helping the Reta Velha community to raise its awareness about energy efficiency related benefits and therefore about the advantages of improving the distribution network.
Trust and cooperation have opened up the possibility for out technicians to install meters, making it possible to start applying electronic invoicing.
Following an agreement with the government, we also introduced a two-year reduced tariff for the inhabitants of this area, offering discounts that increase upon reaching specific electronic invoicing thresholds. Additionally, we are planning to invest part of the sum recovered from loss reduction in initiatives for the community.