Success stories: Smart metering of electricity at EVN Bulgaria and EVN Macedonia

How did it all start?
More than 20 years ago, at the time when the European directive on smart metering systems was only at its inception stage, vendors developed AMR systems and tried to retrofit old meters with additional modules to enable remote readings, and the first pilot projects were installed in the power grids, ADD Grup (one of the leading suppliers of AMI solutions for water and electricity metering) has already launched in Ukraine the first largest project at that time covering 250 thousand smart meters with full AMI functionality, two-way communication and load control. The main task of the system was to combat illegal consumption of electricity. Obviously Ukraine was not the only country suffering from electricity losses.

Back in 2006 the so-called “risk areas” in Bulgaria posed a serious problem for electricity distribution companies with consumption abuses by incorrect users, accumulating millions of financial losses. To deal with them, the utility companies had started electricity regimes and had even shut down entire substations. These measures, however, had started to increasingly unsettle the local population, putting authorities, citizens and the utility companies in an incredibly difficult situation.

Тo tackle this serious socio-political problem ADD GRUP together with its Bulgarian partner ADD Bulgaria proposed a very unorthodox way by using smart metering technology, including installation of electricity meters that can be accessed, measured, turned on and off remotely. In this way, every electricity consumer would be billed according to their actual consumption, without having to bear the bill of other consumers and without having to suffer unfairly the regime and shutting down of electricity.

In the period between 2006 and 2008, ADD Bulgaria implemented for the first time 6000 ADDAX smart meters in EVN Bulgaria. The results were not late as the company achieved a collection rate of 90% in the “risk areas” The outcome was positive not only for the utility company but also for everyone in the city of Plovdiv, because the problem was solved peacefully and fairly, without any discrimination and human rights deprivation. With regular and correctly billed consumption of electricity, now the people in the ghettos could significantly improve their living standard. This example was multiplied in many regions not only in Bulgaria but in Macedonia, as well. It shows that with good will, and, of course, with good technology, even the most vulnerable issues can be successfully resolved. Politicians, diplomats and representatives of the academic world turned to ADD Bulgaria to ask for advice and permission to use it as a case study.

In 2016, there was a strong demand for user information and data privacy, which led to the introduction of security features. During this time, ADD Grup created a security protocol that protects all personal data received from end users. In the near future, it is planned to update and switch to a more encrypted version, which will be implemented by ADD Grup.

Why use ADDAX smart meters?
ADDAX technology designed by ADD Grup enables electricity distribution companies to easily identify where the electricity losses are and to differentiate the technical from non-technical losses. Nationwide, the percentage of losses reached 17-20%. About 15 years after the first implementation of ADDAX technology, the level of non-technical (frauds) losses has been reduced to almost zero. This leads to a fast return on investment for our client, which is the main reason why 1,100,000 devices are integrated in EVN Bulgaria so far – almost 70% of their meters on the territory of Bulgaria is replaced with smart meters. The success of the ghetto project in Plovdiv and the region, helped ADD Bulgaria to expand its presence to EVN Macedonia, where the problems were similar to those in Bulgaria.

The interest in the technology is motivated by the serious economic effect it brings to the companies. It provides a very fast return on investment by the huge loss reduction.

Direct and indirect benefits for utilities

Direct benefits
• Minimizing the costs for measuring the consumption;
• Reduction of the costs for disconnection of irregular subscribers (this is done remotely from the Head-end System);
• Minimizing the cost of inclusion of new customers.

Indirect benefits
• There is a two-way communication from the smart meter to the Head-end System and backwards;
• Collecting a large amount of data and information of energy parameters;
• At any time the company has information about the quality of electricity;
• Monitoring the condition of the substations;
• Quick location of the places with power outages.

Why ADD Bulgaria was the right choice for EVN Bulgaria and EVN Macedonia?

1. Technical team and support.
ADD Bulgaria has an extremely highly qualified team that is responsible for the implementation of the technology. The company provides 24/7 support as our teams are in constant contact with our customers and conduct additional training for their staff. Powerful servers process the received information, and our ultimate goal is to achieve the best possible results in data collection and processing, which brings added value to our client.

2. Flexibility.
ADD Bulgaria is constantly providing ADDAX technology updates to give its customers a modern and efficient solution with a high level of technological security. We work with standardized, open protocols, which makes our technology very adaptable. And the additional development of functions, scripts and modules ordered by our customers not only optimizes their work, but also helps to develop technology even more.

3. Great value for money.
The investment in our technology has a quick return on investment due to the great loss reduction and resource optimization. In times of crises, it is only valuable to invest in the right things, and smart metering is one of them. The collection of data from meters reaches the remarkable values of 99,3-99,4%. Our main goal is to provide high quality at a very competitive price, while having all necessary European certifications and tests.

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