Problems, challenges and achievements of the biggest Serbian DSO company, News Serbia Energy
Among all distribution companies within the system of PE EPS “Elektrodistribucija Beograd” achieved the best results in bill collection in 2012. EDB succeeded in collecting 100% of payments for issued monthly invoices, thereby outperforming the index by 0.74 points. In the interview with Branislav Vujanac, Executive of Electricity Distribution Department at EDB we discussed some important issues including the possibilities of maintaining such a high level of bill collection, as well as the activities which the company would carry out in order to reduce commercial and technical losses on the network.
What measures will be undertaken to maintain a current trend of high level of payments for delivered electricity?
In most distribution companies bill collection in 2012 was better than the planned, and the cumulative achievement is also very good. Moreover, EDB stood at leading position. A range of measures, such as regular meter readings and sending of “white” and “red” warnings, have contributed to good results. Despite of its “unpopularity”, electricity cut-off has been the most effective measure so far. Thirty teams are constantly engaged in this activity. As the number of orders is outstanding, our electricians get wholehearted help from colleagues from other departments of EDB. Since this was not enough, we have also hired colleagues from “Elektrokosmet” and workers of “24 septembar” from Uzice.
Who are, in fact, the largest debtors?
The residents of Belgrade owe RSD 17 billion for electricity, of which RSD 10 billion is owed by companies, and RSD 7 billion by households. Ten percent of the total number of all 840,000 consumers in Belgrade makes 90% of the entire debt. There are households that owe more than a million dinars. These are debtors who do not allow their electricity to be cut off, and sometimes there are no technical conditions for electricity cut-offs. For instance, because they share electricity installations with other, regular payers or cable connections are located in someone’s yard. Our teams are not allowed to enter other people’s possessions, and the police can react only when the attack on the electricians has already occurred. When it comes to the category of transfer orders, in which the largest debtors are the companies undergoing restructuring, a common practice consists of cancellation of debt, but as these companies do not operate, nor do they make profits, new debt is constantly growing. Electricity cut-off in companies like “Minel” or “Masinska industrija” from Rakovica would not make any sense. Finding adequate solution to this problem will be possible only if the economy recovers, companies start to generate profits and become able to pay their bills. Cultural institutions, such as theatres “Terazije”, “Jugoslovensko dramsko” and “Atelje 212” also fall into a group of large debtors. Temporal cut-offs during the last fall were followed by some payments, but they were insufficient for the full settlement of the debt. Sports associations and sports halls also figure on the list of debtors, and the “champions” are football clubs, from lower league clubs to “Zvezda” and “Partizan”.
The objective of EPS is to set up a uniform dynamic of meter reading in all distribution companies. How has EDB progressed in archiving this plan?
So far we have halved the period of meter reading, from 15 to 8 days. As we needed additional workforce, we hired a group of young workers through Youth Services Cooperative. Also, we purchased 200 psions, expensive, high-technology meter reading devises. The ultimate goal is to reduce time for meter reading for the households to 5, and to companies to 3 days. In that respect, we will engage more young employees, and use psions more rationally.
Is reading accurate and of satisfactory quality, because that is also important for reducing losses?
There are a small number of unread meters and errors are purely statistical. In books of “reports”, our meter readers regularly note all perceived irregularities. So for example, when they notice that a new building is connected to our grid, but not included in meter reading register of customers, they write report according to which electricians of TUM and Inspection Service intervene in situ.
Replacement is yet to come
As unauthorized consumption is reducing incomes, another important objective is to reduce losses. What actions have been taken thus far?
The losses were within projections, but unfortunately, they are not negligible. They currently account for 12% and the goal is to achieve a further decrease. Last year about 20,000 records of unauthorized consumption were completed, for 1490 households and 518 companies from the category of transfer orders, and on that basis we invoiced 46 MWh or RSD 361 million. Losses are also caused by old metering devises, and we intent to replace the metering infrastructure. That process will require substantial financial resources and more people. During the last year EDB purchased 13,500 electricity meters, while 20,000 meters are calibrated in our laboratory each year. However, it is not enough because attestation period has expired for 500,000 meters. We expect that a large purchase of meters, planned by EPS, will largely solve the problem of greater replacement of metering devises.
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