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‘Smart electricity meters can help Jordan curb electricity loss’

By Mohammad Ghazal - Oct 15,2014 - Last updated at Oct 15,2014

DUBAI — Ericsson, the Sweden-based ICT infrastructure company, has shown interest in collaborating with the government to curb electricity theft and loss, which an expert said cost the Kingdom hundreds of millions of dinars annually.

By installing “smart electricity meters”, the government will not only be able to combat electricity theft and loss, but also reduce power consumption by 15-20 per cent through better management of the grid’s capacity, said Andrea Petti, VP Verticals and Indirect Channel MEA at Ericsson.

“We are willing to discuss cooperating with Jordan in this regard as we believe that the Kingdom can greatly benefit from replacing [regular] electricity meters with smart ones,” Petti told The Jordan Times on the sidelines of GITEX Technology Week 2014.

Jawad Abbassi, founder and general manager of the Arab Advisers Group, said electricity theft is a “major” problem for Jordan, costing hundreds of millions of dinars annually.

In 2013, the electricity loss percentage at the Jordanian Electric Power Company (JEPCO) alone reached 13.8 per cent, which translates into JD163 million dinars in losses, Abbassi told The Jordan Times on the sidelines of GITEX in Dubai.

“There are solutions that the government needs to consider to reduce the loss percentage. The stealing of electricity rose rapidly after the government started gradually ending the subsidy,” he added.

The installation of smart meters enables electricity companies to remotely monitor the load on the grid and detect any sabotage or tampering. It also enables them to direct the capacity to areas where demand peaks, Petti said.

“Smart systems enable maximum optimisation of the current grid and reduce the need for more investments in infrastructure,” he added.

Installing such meters enables power companies to remotely disconnect users who do not pay their bills on time and reconnect them remotely as well, the Ericsson executive noted.

“The installation of such meters is on the rise across the world and in some countries in the Middle East. Countries with energy challenges need to consider such solutions.”

According to Petti, there are some 300 million smart electricity meters installed across the world.

In September, Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour called for addressing electricity theft and reducing energy waste, noting that stealing electricity is an abuse of public money, as the National Electric Power Company’s (NEPCO) assets are a national resource.

Ensour also called for assigning a security detail to accompany NEPCO inspectors during their field visits and giving the inspectors the authority to detain any violators or assailants. 

Demand on electricity in Jordan, which imports about 97 per cent of its energy needs annually, rises by about 6 per cent per year, according to the Energy Ministry.

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