Identification of Energy Theft and Tampered Meters Using a Central Observer Meter: A Mathematical Approach

C . J. Bandim, Member, IEEE, J. E. R. Alves Jr., Member, IEEE, A. V. Pinto Jr, Member, IEEE, F. C . Souza, M. R. B. Loureiro, C. A. Magalhges and F. Galvez-Durand
Abstrczct-This paper presents a new methodology to identify energy theft and tampered meters as well as meters that are not working properly. It is based on a central observer meter that is responsible for metering the overall energy of a group of consumers under investigation. Deterministic and statistic approaches are used to determine which consumers have problems in their premises. Also, pattern recognition is used to discover energy theft using bypass.

installation (for example, number of phases), the distribution transformer to which the consumer is connected, etc.

Index Terms-Losses in power distribution networks; fraud detection.


In Brazil, one of the most challenging problems that
distribution utilities are facing is energy losses [ l ] [2]. Losses of distribution utilities are defined as the net result of the difference between the generated andor purchased energy and the energy effectively billed. They can be arranged in two types: technical and commercial losses. Technical losses are related to non idealities of electric equipment: transformers, transmission lines and other equipment have, for instance, ohmic losses and even the meters are not lossless. In order to reduce technical losses, several actions ccin be carried out by the utility: replacing old equipment by more efficient equipment, designing and building more efficient distribution networks, etc. Commercial losses are the net difference between the energy effectively supplied by the distribution utility and the effectively billed energy of the consumers. Theft of energy and meters that don’t work properly are one of the major causes of commercial losses. Also, problems in the billing system may cause commercial losses to the distribution utility. Checking the billing procedures of the utility can be the first step to reduce commercial losses. To do that, the consumer database must be always updated, reflecting any change verified in the field with the smallest time delay. This database is important not only for auditing the billing. It is crucial for discovering energy frauds, as it maintains key information such as the class of the consumers (residential, commercial, industrial, etc.), the address, technical aspects of the metering
C. J . Bandim, J. E. R. Alves Jr., A. V. Pinto Jr. and F. C. Souza are with CEPEL-Research Center of Electrical Energy. M. R. B. Loureiro and C. A. Magalhles are independent consultants. F. Galvez-Durand is with UFRI- Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

Another way to reduce the utility’s commercial losses is to enhance the observability of the consumers. A possible action can be regularly visiting the consumers’ metering installations to check them in order to find out any problem. This should be done by specialized and well-trained teams. However, these visits are expensive if carried out for the whole set of consumers of the utility. Because of that, utilities usually adopt a statistical approach to select the consumers [3] to be inspected and, consequently, they don’t find out the existing problems of all installations. One possible alternative, reported in the literature [4], is substituting the conventional electromechanical meters for electronic ones, with anti-tampering characteristics. Singhal, S . [SI discusses revenue protection features brought by electronic measurement. The drawback of these arrangements is that it is necessary to change from the conventional metering to the electronic metering in all the installations. Improving the observability can be done by installing observer meters outside the metering installations, normally out of the residence of the consumers. At fist, an observer meter is necessary for each consumer. In Brazil, the utility provides the meter to the consumer and therefore the arrangement of two meters is very expensive if each consumer has two meters: one inside and one outside his premises. In addition, the outdoor meter costs more than the indoor one, as it must withstand hard environmental conditions.

A possible approach to overcome commercial losses in this sense should be the centralized system depicted in [ 11. In this
scheme, there isn’t any metering inside the consumer’s premises and, besides, all the meters of a particular neighborhood should be accommodated in the same case. The observability of metering would be improved, as the metering could be viewed by everyone. Besides, energy bypasses would be easily discovered. This arrangement also includes a central observer meter, installed next to the distribution transformer. By comparing the register of this observer meter with the sum of the registers of all meters connected to the transformer, any problem can be found out straightforwardly. Nevertheless, the difference between the observer meter and all the consumers’ meters is not enough to point out which consumer has problems in his installation at a first glance. This paper shows that looking deeply into the problem reveals

0-7803-81 10-6/03/$17.00 02003 IEEE


We will also admit that another watthour meter is installed in a point where it is possible to measure the total energy supplied to the N consumers mentioned above. the next equations should be satisfied: Thus. To allow this identification in a cost-effective way. This meter will be called central observer meter (In practical terms. ki = a constant relative to the accuracy class of the meter of the i-* consumer (if the accuracy class is 2%. lli5N. a value between 98Wh and 102Wh.. 2. it is operating out of its accuracy class. [6] shows a systematic procedure with the purpose of discovering discrepancies between main meters and another meter readings focused on large generators. that is.. This method is particularly inexpensive.G.98 and 1. In addition. 1. as it uses a single observer meter for a large number of consumers. The methodology will be applied to the group of meters of the consumers that are connected to this secondary distribution network. admitting that the constants ki (1 I i 5 N ) are unknown quantities (which are related to the accuracy classes of the meters). See Fig. R. if we get N values of energy (from each of the N meters and the central observer meter) during N periods of time.02). OBJECTIVE The main objective of this paper is to propose a methodology that indicates problematic metering installations. This may occur due to the following reasons: either the meter is tampered. in a secondary distribution network. Since (1) is valid for any period of time. that meter should be installed close to the secondary terminal of the distribution transformer). Exemplification of the central observer meter installation 1 1 . IV. as a result of the measurement of lOOWh. Fig. our interest is to identify. Ei = energy registered by the meter of the i-* consumer. it will be necessary to install a unique watthour meter (central observer) close to the secondary terminals of the distribution transformer. for a certain period of time. Thus. is possible to say that the energy registered by the central observer meter and the energy registered by each of the N meters should satisfy the following equation: Where: E ~ T U = energy registered by the central observer meter (it supposes that the central observer measurement error is wellknown). . Observer Meter J J!. The accuracy class indicates that the error committed by the meter should be smaller than or equal to m times the energy actually consumed.alternatives to indicate installations with problems just watching the central observer and the registers of all the consumers. See Fig. Block diagram of the metering system m. a watthour meter whose accuracy class is -2% should produce. we have a set of N equations with N unknown 164 . The investigation of metering faults by analysis of the metering readings have already been reported in the literature [ 6 ] . in the present paper the main target is recognizing frauds or energy theft. this procedure is more effective and less costly than inspecting the whole set of consumers. For example. 2. U Fig. REDUCED MODELING We will admit that there are N consumers in this group and that for each consumer there is a watthour meter that accuracy class is m. registering the total energy of that set of consumers. one or more consumers where the energy measurement is not correct. The number of inspections can be reduced. the value of ki must be between 0. for example. On the other hand.DESCRIPTION OF THE PROBLEM As mentioned previously. or the consumer is getting some energy that is not being measured (through a conductor that bypasses the meter). the inspections of the consumers' premises by specialized teams can be better focused as the technique showed here is capable of identifying metering installations that present very strong probability of presenting troubles.Chambers. Therefore. The algorithms developed here associate the measurements of a group of consumers under investigation with a central observer meter. 1.

7).quantities. : . i z . It should be observed that the coefficient of consumer 1 has changed to 1. show that there is no problems Where: [ E . a situation in which the meter of consumer 1 reads 70% of the actually supplied energy has also been simulated. 4. ki should be belong to the range ( I -m) I ki I ( I +m). usually accomplished through bypasses.43=1/0. Matrix Inversion The equations system presented in section IV can be written in a matrix form: d f I I&. The load curves of the four hvDothetica1 -* presented in Fig. SOLUTION METHODS For solving the system of N equations presented previously. Four hypothetical consumen load curves Consumer 2 h Consumer 4 Fig. that is.] = [E¶]*[KI (2) * he coefficients of the meters. In addition. working properly. Meter 1 measurement 1 measurement 2 4600 4950 Meter 2 3650 4200 Meter 3 3150 3600 3250 2950 Meter 4 Observer Meter [:::: : i 2500 P m1-l [Eql (ET1 A. ] = array of the central observer measurements [K] = array of the meter coefficients [Eq]= squared matrix (N x N) with N measurements (lines) and N meters (columns) The goal of the method is to obtain the array [K]. 3. the array [K] can be obtained from: Fig. We have studied linear methods involving matrix inversion and recursive statistical methods (least squares). B. several methods can be used. Assuming that the matrix [Eq] is non-singular.43 (1. Notice that the introduced basic modeling does not include: a) Frauds that are e x t m d to the meter. If the N equations above are linearly independent. . Notice that the values of h T a j (1 IjI N ) and of E. solving it to get the N values of ki. and each consumer has his load curves different from the consumers are others. 4 demonstrates that the coefficients have been adequately calculated in a situation where there is no fraud. normalized. 5 shows the results. V. the method consists of obtaining a set of N Linearly independent equations. Results extracted from an Excel worksheet. 5. 3. show that there are problems In meter 1 Fig.43 0 006822007 : W . or not. a unique solution will be found for each constant ki. 165 .O 005992005 -0 000626972 -0 00275405 0002949190 0 00071 8494 0 001Mi973 -0 00377025 0004580265 0003604566 001290t325 -0003611193 -0001122239 0002494109 iql-' I hypothetical residential consumers that had their load curves simulated SO aS to attend to the following criteria: for each his load are not the same for different days. The value calculated for each ki indicates whether the corresponding meter is inside or outside from its accuracy class m.j (1 5 i. Results extract from a Excel worksheet. In summary. The error is due to the finite resolution or to the accuracy class of the meters. Fig. Tampering situation. and determining whether the meters are. normahzed. Meter 1 Meter 2 3650 4200 3300 3250 Meter 3 3150 3600 3250 2950 Meter 4 ObWNer Meter measurementi measurement 2 measurement 3 measurement 4 3220 3465 3535 2800 2500 [Eql f [ET1 [K] = [EqI-' * [ET] As an example. k k h e coefficients of the meters. simulations have been made with four [i ]= E 1. Normal situation. . Fig.j IN ) are obtained from measurements. Least squares [91 Since the measurements can be interpreted as variables with a statistical error associated. These effects Will be considered in the expanded modeling presented in section VII. the presented modeling can be statistically analyzed. b) The technical losses that always occur among the central observer meter and the meters of the consumers. otherwise either the meter is tampered or there is a malfunction.

.el + e. This means that Recursive Least Square Method needs less computational effort than the Matrix Inversion Method. The number of lines and columns of this matrix is the same as the number of observations. Thus. the consumers may keep their 166 .P(t-l). Where: The expression in boldface is the error between the estimated and the measured value of the central observer W(N) = a weight array P(N) = degree of precision of the measurement y(t) = ql. + pw e. Y = matrix composed by the observed variables y(t) in several instants of time. the larger is the weight of more recent measurements. The algorithm theoretically needs 12 measures to adapt itself.cpT(t)..unknown parameters.time period in which the measurements were done.[y(t) . it is enough to know the values of more up-to-date measurements.&.cpT (t)] . so that only the third part of the energy delivered to the consumer was effectively computed by the meter. it can be introduced a “forgetting” factor h as shown below: v(~. as compared with older measurements. t .Q) should be non singular. obtaining expression (4). For time-varying systems. they can be estimated. should be minimum”.. The squared matrix (QT. It is possible to demonstrate that minimum error is obtained when: mere: Where: & = array of estimated parameters. The Recursive Least Square Method can be expressed by the following equation: @(N+1) = e(N)+ w(N)[yN+i q(N+1) e(N)] W(N) = P(N+l) cpT(N+l) W(N) = P(N) cpT(N+l)[lq(N+l)P(N) cpT(N+l)]-’ P(N+l)= I-W(N) ~p(N+l) 1 P(N) -3 4 Fig.N =) (112) x N t = l hN-1 . the unknown values of a mathematical model should be calculated so that “the sum of the squares of the differences between the measured values and the estimated values multiplied by constants that measure the degree of precision. (4) The value of h is between 0 and 1.cp(t) = P(t-l). the higher is the number of observations. Identificationprocess results - (5) C. The lower the value of A. 0 . However. (6) ye(t) = pI.cp(t)]-l P(t) = [ l-W(t). it may be necessary to introduce a way to reduce the influence of old values.observed variable.cp(t)[h + cpT(t). to obtain new coefficients. we will obtain an equation. denominated Recursive Least Square Method. we have introduced a modification in the meter. in which. during the observation period of T units of time. At first. there is a great probability that the new obtained equations be linearly dependent. this method also needs a matrix inversion. So.e(t-l)] W(t) = P(t). the coefficient value is “3”. 6. In measurement 6. + . Main Dificulties An intrinsic difficulty present in the methods described above is obtaining the N linearly independent equations. (7) Where: & = estimated parameters ye = value of the observed variable as a function of the estimated parameters The problem of the least squares is to determine the Parameters so that Ye(t) agrees as clOselY as possible with Y(t). the matrix P is initialized with P(O)= k*I. This is due to the fact that. in the 18’ measurement. If we do not know the exact parameters.According to this method. we can observe that. where k is a high value constant and I is the identity matrix. If we do N-1 other observations.. Quantities cp and y are measured for several instants of time. When we observe the consumption of the N consumers for T units of time. there is an alternative method. Q = matrix composed by the measurements in several instants of time. the algorithm has identified the fraud.P(t-1) / h The application of the least squares algorithm in a set of 12 was studied and the results are shown in this section. cp ..measurements. that is. In this situation. + q. as a function of the measurements. each one for T units of time. the higher is the computational effort. Expression (3) shows the formulation of minimum least squares called regression model.&]+ + . Figure 6 presents a simulation of the behavior of the coefficient of meter 1. So. qT = measurements I = identity matrix Frequently. E2(t) (3) Where: y . Recursive equations are: 0(t) = 0(t-1) + Q(t). Consumer 1 had his meter tampered. his coefficient should change from “1” to “3”..

b) Frauds that are external to accomplished through bypasses. . It should be investigated which consumers changed their behaviors of consumption at that same instant.consumption pattern approximately invariable. This fact can cause evaluation mistakes.@)in order to choose a convenient set of equations. To avoid this difficulty.. A possible solution for this problem is carries out intelligent processing of the measurements of the consumers’ meters and of the central observer. EToTKj should be multiplied by 0. The value of “a” (hypothetical measurement value) was swept in intervals of 50Wh around 25kWh. Notice that. For example. with regard to lOOkWh. 7.. too. in kWh. the algorithm should identify the singularity of the matrix ((DT. In this example. + kiEi + . Thus. all of the consumers have the same consumption except for a null measure. EXPANDED MODELING The modeling described in section IV does not take into 167 . Then. Table 1 shows the biggest differences. as shown in Fig. among the central observer meter and the meters of the consumers. We assumed ideal conditions.. usually To exemplify this problem.. 9. The shape of the matrix is presented in Fig. For example. when the equations system is being solved. + kNEN + EF~ (8) Equation (8) will be called expanded model and to correctly identify kl. the obtained values are different from 1. Most of these meters are electromechanical with lkWh of resolution. making the new generated equations very close to each other. for low consumption. the meter... When the deviation between central observer and the sum of the consumers changes significantly and this alteration coincides with the alteration of the behavior of some specific consumer. quantities lower than lkWh will be truncated. the energy measured by the central observer meter should be corrected. the value of “a”was swept from 99499 to 100499. . relating the amount of energy flowing through the distribution network and the corresponding losses. In other words. 8.. In order to get a more accurate model of the distribution system. that is. TABLE 1 DIFFERENCES DUE TO FINITE RESOLUTION OF THE METER One way to achieving that is by providing a historical database with the consumption values of each consumer and the corresponding consumption of the central observer meter. the effect of the finite resolution of the meters becomes more critical.@) from being singular.. . we have simulated a hypothetical case with 12 electromechanical meters (each one with resolution of lkWh ). For example. k2. kNthe coefficients E F ~Em. in order to compensate for the losses. as shown in Fig. mainly. Another difficulty of the method is in the finite resolution of the watthour meters generally used by the utility. O a a a a a a a a a a a a O a a a a a a a a a a O a a a a a a a a a a O a a a a a a a a a a O a a a a a a a a a a O a a a a a a a a a a O a a a a a a a a a a O a a a a a a a a a a O a a a a a a a a a a O a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a The external fraud can be estimated adding a term to (1) originating (8) as shown following: Fig. The obtained coefficients’ values should be unitary. at any time. we will present a simulated case where the difference between the measurement of the central observer and the sum of the consumers changes. as precise as possible. Simulations of the system should be done in order to get a table. being increased of 200kWh. consideration two factors: a) The technical losses that occur along the distribution network. it is necessary a realistic estimation of the technical losses. 50kWh and 1OOkWh.. This can be done through the knowledge of the electrical characteristics of the distribution network. However. to the resistance of the conductors that connect the consumer to the distribution network. due to the finite resolution of the meters. Em must be discovered at first moment. 7. Consumption Maximum Differences 1OOkWh 10% VI..95 to obtain the energy actually delivered to the consumers. accuracy class equal to zero for the meters and technical losses equal to zero. These technical losses are due. this indicates that this consumer (or consumers) may be doing a fraud by energy deviation. This null measure is needed to keep the squared matrix (aT. in this case a certain consumer changed his behavior. For example. supposing that for a given situation the amount of losses iS 5%. the methodology should consider the finite resolution of the meters. A hypothetical consumption matrix I a a a a a a a a a O a a a a a a a a a a a O I EmTa = klE1 + k2E2 + .

. 462). 462)). 1999.V. J. 168 . . the non-zero resistance of the energy cables..R.. already knowing this term. in Rio de Janeiro. Publ.B. No. No..J. 300 - I 250.S. the energy measurements of this meter. 462)). Publ. Ninth International Conference on (Conf. Aug 1999 ... 462)). . Bandim.“Uma Nova Abordagem Tecnoldgica de Combate h Perdas Comerciais” . Jose Eduardo R. Ary V. . .. L. . . and the bypass of the energy that is not accounted by the meters. Mr. REFERENCES Gama. Patra. Publ.E R E . . A. . Hypothetical consumer load curve with an alteration of behavior The change of the consumption level is about 200kWh. . 100 50 - - I 2 4 Months 6 8 I 10 12 Fig. is a research engineer and a project manager of CEPEL.“Loss Evaluation in Distribution Systems” .C.V. Singhal. Cidel Argentina 2002 Costa. RJ.B. degree in electrical engineering. degree in electrical engineering.R..M.“Centmlized Metering System In Buildings” .. . “Random sampling of and a scheme for reporting of malfunctions in electricity meters in Sweden” . R. . Metering and Tariffs for Energy Supply. 8. Ninth International Conference on (Conf..J. Santos. C.-. R.. .J. R.Congreso Internacional De Distribucih Eltctrica. Ninth International Conference on (Conf. Durand holds a D. Loureiro holds a B. Pinto Jr. K. .. . Pinto Junior. M. a new approach for identification of frauds or adulterations in measurement systems in distribution networks has been presented.Congreso Internacional De Distribucidn El6ctrica. that may correspond to the unknown term EFj . The possible methods for the solution of the system can use statistic or deterministic approaches. Souza. A. Luiz. Mauro R. we would do the following composition in order to obtain an equation with the shape like the reduced model one: W. L.. Bandim holds an M. J. Wittenmark. S.Birmingham.C. degree in electrical engineering.. . degree in electrical engineering. Souza. “ The role of metering in revenue protection” . in Niter& RJ.Caldas.J. Mr. Alves Jr. B. . Publ. Brazil.. Metering and Tariffs for Energy Supply. 1994. average I 2 4 Months 6 8 I 10 12 VIII.. M.R. degree in electrical engineering. Bandim.Flumineme Federal University. F.Birmingham.Addison-Wesley 1989. Ninth International Conference on (Conf. H. 1999. IX. C.Sc.. Aug 1999 .V. Alvarenga.C. Loureiro.C. Bandim. F. “Tamper detection using neuro-fuzzy logic [static energy meters] “ . S. The problem of energy deviation through bypassing the meter demands a more careful analysis. UK Misra. . in a large number of the cases. Mr. The methodology includes the utilization of a central observer meter installed close to the secondary terminals of the distribution transformer. . Mr. Fig. Ms. C. Thus.R.Sc. is an external consultant that works in cooperation with CEPEL. . Alves holds a D. Brazil. . .Sc. Brazil. and convenient mathematical methods.M.Sc. RJ. de Souza is a research engineer and a project manager of CEPEL.G.Sc. UK. Pinto Jr. Pinto holds an M. F. Alves Junior. Pimentel.Z.. 9. Brazil. .. J. degree in electrical engineering. No. CONCLUSIONS In this paper. degree in electrical engineering. . Christiane A. kWh ~ . “ Early diagnosis of tariff metering faults by a systematic analysis of maidcheck metering discrepancies “. UK... ..Sc. . Cidel Argentina 2002 Nilsson. MagalhZes holds a B.Rio de Janeiro Federal University in Rio de Janeiro..B. F.. A. Alvarenga.“A New Concept Of Electrical Energy Metering In Buildings” ..The main difficulties for solving the system are getting a set of linearly independent equations. . and will be better investigated in future works.Birmingham. 1999. F.C. which consumer (or consumers) is (are) committing frauds. R. the energy measurements of the meters of the each consumer served by this secondary distribution network. Fabio C. Galvez-Durand. L. Mr. Aug 1999 .. Federico Galvez-Durand is professor of the UFRJ . Dantas. Galvez-Durand.”Adaptative Control” . Loureiro. Difference between the sum of all consumer meters and the observer meter. UK Chambers. S.Sc.XV Seminfio Nacional de DistribuiGLo de Energia Elttrica . . It has been demonstrated that it is possible to identify. Metering and Tariffs for Energy Supply. Alvarenga. A. Souza holds an M.R. Metering and Tariffs for Energy Supply.. 2002.. Bandim is a research engineer and a project manager of CEPEL Electric Power Research Center. Loureiro. 1999.P. BIOGRAPHIES Cesar J.M. et alli . Mr.Birmingham. the finite resolution of the meters. Mr. B. MagalhFies is an external consultant that works in cooperation with CEPEL. The methodology is based on an equations system where the unknown quantities are the accuracy classes (normalized) of the meters. based on observation of the consumer behavior. is the manager of CEPEL‘s R&D Program of Distribution Systems and Energy-Efficient Use.. No. Alves is also professor of UFF . . Pinto Junior. Astrom..SEND1 2002.G.E. 200 - 150. Aug 1999 . .

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