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COMMERCIAL FEATURE E.ON Hungary New Approach to Tackling Illegal Consumption Increasing illegal consumption is a stringent issue for Hungarian electricity distribution companies. The current difficult economic downturn has been a factor in consumers using illegal connections to get electricity “for free”, causing important losses to Distribution System Operators (DSOs). Stealing electricity is as simple as throwing a cable on a bare mains wire. With legacy electromechanical meters installed at consumer premises, the utility would not know the location of the illegal connection, so dishonest behaviour can go on undetected indefinitely. E.ON Hungary decided to curb illegal electricity consumption and started a pilot project to test new methods for decreasing the theft rate. To ensure a lasting effect of its measures, E.ON designed a comprehensive strategy: technical means to protect distribution infrastructure and eliminate tampering attempts coupled with educational programmes aimed at persuading residents to consume electricity responsibly and legally, thus solving the root of the phenomenon. Local government and the Maltese Charity Service have joined the project by implementing a social programme to solve unemployment and by transferring aid e.g. in energy tokens – numerical codes that enable consumers to load an amount of kWh to their meter. Twenty five transformer districts were identified as locations where most of the energy is lost because of illegal consumption. These distribution areas have been chosen as the testing ground for the anti-theft solutions. The first chosen transformer area was in Tatabánya, one of the cities that are most affected by energy theft. E.ON firstly reinforced physical grid infrastructure so that the distribution grid could better withstand tampering attempts. E.ON has also changed all the cables to the insulated type and has increased the height of utility poles (either using a 2.0-2.5 m metal extension on the existing ones or simply changing them to taller ones). Specialized Anti-Theft Metering Solution In order to assure accurate billing it was essential to protect the meter from tampering by removing it from consumer premises. E.ON chose to test the ADDAX Pole Mounted Meter, a unique metering device developed and supplied by ADD GRUP, a leading provider of PLC Technology, Advanced Metering Infrastructure and Smart Meters. About pole mounted meter and advanced metering infrastructure The meter can be installed on the pole or fastened to the wires high above the ground without any cabinet or enclosure and can endure extreme weather conditions. One of the major benefits of the design is that the device itself is kept away from the consumer; therefore the chances for a meter security breach are close to zero. For the AMI to foster responsible consumption and energy saving behaviour, consumers should have detailed information about their energy consumption. A consumer interface unit (CIU) installed indoors and plugged into any electricity socket serves this purpose by instantly receiving real-time consumption information from the pole mounted meter and making it available for the end-user. Figure1: Installation scheme of pole mounted meter and consumer interface unit (CUI) 26 Pole mounted meters are equipped with two power line modems to ensure two-way communication: not only with the CIU, but also with the master station in order to provide the utility with accurate information about the electricity consumption of each individual consumer. METERING INTERNATIONAL ISSUE - 1 | 2014