Energy thefts and grid losses are frequent in Brazil, especially in high social risk areas, where the spread of violence and delinquency makes access difficult for technicians that need to undertake ordinary maintenance work on the electricity grid. In order to respond to this need, the Enel Group distribution company in the city and the State of Rio de Janeiro conceived a pilot project characterised by an innovative methodology of intervention.
The integrated approach of the Reta Velha project combines technical operations and social action for the benefit of the communities living in the area bearing this name, a neighbourhood located in Itaboraí, in the metropolitan area of Rio de Janeiro, inhabited by 5,300 people and having a 73.4 percent grid loss rate in 2013
Launched in 2014, this project began by mapping the area and the related risk analysis, identifying both the most critical areas and those with the greatest aggregation points (schools, hospitals, churches, etc). A local NGO – specialised in projects in areas with political and social conflicts – was involved and a mobile office, Amplamóvil, was set up to solve customers' needs directly in the local area.
Social action included initiatives such as the replacement of old home electric appliances with new low-energy consumption ones, thus helping the Reta Velha community to raise its awareness on the benefits related to energy efficiency and therefore to the improvement of the distribution grid. It was then possible for Ampla's technicians to take effective action, installing meters and starting e-invoicing.
Thanks to an agreement with the government, Ampla has also introduced a reduced tariff for inhabitants of this area for two years, offering incremental discounts on reaching certain invoicing thresholds and has planned to invest in favour of initiatives for the community a part of what has been recovered from the reduction in losses.
The result of the Reta Velha project after one year consists in marked – also economic - benefits for the community and a grid loss rate that has fallen by 66 percentage points, down in 2014 to 7.4%, one of the lowest levels in the region.