The contract is the first for eMeter in Brazil. The largest international contract is with Npower in the United Kingdom. Siemens acquired eMeter late in 2011, which has boosted its international presence.
“We don’t have to go in and say we’re reliable and dependable and we’ll be around for years to come,” said Chris King, chief regulatory officer for eMeter. “Our sales capability has been immediately expanded.”
CPFL is still awaiting regulatory approval for the project, but regulators have been working on the issue for years, according to King, and it is expected to be ruled upon by the end of the year. The two issues are the functional requirement of meters for the mass market, which is nearing a decision -- and the sticky issue of who is going to pay for all of this.
When CPFL gets approval for the residential market, eMeter would seem like the natural choice for MDM as they already have a working relationship, but there has not been a formal announcement. CPFL has seven million meters across its entire territory, and its high- and medium-voltage customers account for about half of the utility's revenue.
Even with outstanding regulatory decisions, Brazil is still an extremely attractive smart grid market. The country has a growing economy and many utilities suffer from high theft rates. CPFL has one of the lower line loss rates in Brazil, about 8 percent, but others have line loss rates up to 30 percent, mostly due to theft, King said.
The utility will begin with high- and medium-voltage customers. As customers get meters, they will all be given a time-of-use option, which eMeter’s EnergyIP will help to enable through data analytics. EMeter will also help CPFL manage its non-technical loss (read: stolen electricity), help monitor and manage energy quality and outages, and send consumption data to Brazil’s energy stock market to manage wholesale transactions. The eMeter contract is part of CPFL’s larger smart grid initiative to improve its overall energy quality, operational performance and relationship with its customers.
IBM, a partner that eMeter has worked closely with in the past, will be doing the systems integration for CPFL. King said one of the strengths of eMeter was helping utilities to combine OT and IT into one seamless system. “We offer a much broader value proposition” when voltage information, customer information and other data can all be analyzed and accessed on one platform.
CPFL has not announced the meter maker, although King noted that there are two metering companies that eMeter will integrate through its Adaptor technology and into CPFL’s backend systems. For eMeter, it’s just another day in the office, as most of its projects include some legacy smart meters for large C&I customers and multiple communication systems that need to be integrated into EnergyIP.
“CPFL Energia chose EnergyIP as the meter data management platform based on its proven track record, extensibility to support our multiple communication technologies and multiple operation companies,” Mauro Carmello, manager of operative processes and automation at CPFL Energia, said in a statement. “We believe the strength in eMeter’s platform and history of proven customer successes worldwide makes them the only energy information platform provider able to service our current and future needs.”
CFPL is a holding company that has eight distributors that serve 569 municipalities in the states of São Paulo, Rio Grande do Sul, Paraná and Minas Gerais. The meter rollout is expected to start in 2013 and could take about five years.
For eMeter, the strong toehold in Brazil will ideally be a jumping off point to gain other business in a country that has about 60 million meters. “Even though we have about 50 projects around the world,” said King, “every utility wants to know what you’re doing in their country.”