The magnitude of operational losses
in the supply of electricity in Nigeria has been growing   significantly. Issues of theft and illegal
connection pose major challenges in the energy distribution. This has greatly
worsened the current electricity supply in the country; hence, the need for the
design of a robust system for identifying or detecting illegal electricity

In this study, an Automated Remote
Power Management System (ARPMS) was developed for detection of meter bypassing,
tampering and illegal load shedding. ARPMS consisted of embedded
microcontroller, Current and Voltage Sensors (CVS), and Global System for
Mobile Communication (GSM) module for effective detection of meter tempering.
The microcontroller was embedded with microprograms for task regulation and
control functions. The CVSs were used to monitor and report deviations from the
normal signals. The GSM module was used for remote communication and control.
The microcontroller was programmed using embedded C. A user-study experiment,
which involved fifty (50) purposively selected electrical engineers, was
carried out to evaluate the proposed system. The engineers subjected the system
to different scenarios of bypass. A structured questionnaire guide was used to
capture responses from the engineers. Descriptive analysis was conducted on the
performance data of the ARPMS from the engineers.

The result showed that ARPMS had
100% efficiency, 96% acceptance and a remote communication index of 0.99. This
showed that ARPMS had high capability for detecting meter tempering. The result
also showed that the real time ARPMS was able to evaluate the amount of
consumed energy by a building through remote monitoring and control of domestic
energy meter, and gave the information about the meter reading to the utility
company through Short Message Services (SMS). ARPMS provided regular status of
the meter on a predefined interval, and displayed user’s account update in real
time. This system also detected electricity power bypass by consumers. The
ARPMS controlled technology demonstrated the capability of providing a better
mechanism for collecting power consumption bills in advance.

In conclusion, an efficient ARPMS
for preventing power theft has been developed. It also used GSM based
technology to perform billing related processes at all times. The system is
therefore recommended for electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) for efficient
management of energy consumption and prepaid billing.

Keywords:      Automated
Remote, Monitoring, Microcontroller, GSM Communication, Embedded C



1.1 Background to the Study

Electricity is very crucial to the
socio-economic and technological development of every country. One of the
indices used to measure the development of an economy is uninterrupted power
supply. It is widely accepted that there is a strong correlation between the
availability of electricity and socio-economic development. The supply of
electricity in Nigeria incurs substantial capital. The enormity of these costs is growing astronomically across the
globe. To decipher the unlawful users of electricity in a bid to enhance the
economy of utility company, efficiency and protection of the grid, a novel
procedure for scrutinizing electricity usage patterns of customers and
recognizing illegal consumers is proposed and implemented. Nigeria electric
power network operator, electricity Distribution Companies of Nigeria (DISCOs)
has for a long period of time been combating the problem of revenue collation.
This is majorly attributed to the fact that electricity bills are sent to
consumers after consumption. Consumers are usually unwilling to pay electricity
bills as a result of epileptic nature of the electricity supplied which is not
usually mirrored in the bills which are basically estimates of power usage and
not usually commensurate to the true amount of electricity consumed by the
respective consumer.

The low reliability of electric power supply
has little bearing on the network operator because whether power is provided or
not, in the post-paid method, the monthly electricity bills are still sent to
consumers. Hence, the user bears the cost of generating power for their
personal usage as well as that of the electricity that was never provided by
DISCOs. Due to the enormity of the debt accrued by customers, the network
operator initiated a cash collection policy named Revenue Cycle Management
(RCM) which involves collecting monies owed through private establishments.
This failed to give the anticipated results; hence DISCOs came up with the
digital pre-paid meter in 2006 whose operation is somewhat synonymous with the
loading of an airtime voucher in the Global System for Mobile communication
(GSM) handset. If power is available and the pre-paid meter is loaded with units,
the loaded unit diminishes only when the load is connected and stops when power
is interrupted. In the last decade, smart cards evolved from basic memory cards
to complex systems on chips with a processing power that can be expanded. This
became an avenue for the invention of many applications used in the world
today. The smart card, an intelligent token, is a credit card sized plastic
card embedded within an integrated circuit chip. A smart card usually consists
of a Read Only Memory (ROM) or flash memory, Electrical Erasable Programmable
Read Only Memory (EEPROM) and a Central Processing Unit (CPU). The smart card
operating system controls access to data on the card. The card operating system
does not only make the smart card secure for access control, but also has the
capability to store a private key for a public key infrastructure system.

Recently, the industry has come up with 32-bit
smart card processors having more than 400Kbytes of EEPROM, and a memory
management and protection unit serving as a firewall for the hardware. This
hardware firewall enables secure separation of adjacent applications, as well
as being the basis for secure downloading of applications. The self-containment
of smart card makes it somewhat attack proof as it does not need to be relied
upon potentially attack susceptible external resources. Due to this feature,
smart cards are often used in diverse applications which require strong
security and authentication. In addition to information security, smart cards
achieve greater physical security of services and equipment, because a smart
card limits access to only authorized users.

the smart card can be used as a credit/debit bank card which makes it relevant
for e-commerce applications. The multi-application smart card, along with the
advent of open platform smart card operating systems, brings the only viable
option for handling multiple electronic transactions these days. It is a cost
effective secure way to manage transactions electronically Manufacturers, issuers
and users have come to appreciate the value of one card that manages
multi-applications. A multi-application card will be able to amongst other
things do an automatic update of new services as well as existing applications,
change and store user profiles for each application and be usable on a range of
devices. One of the most valuable applications is in using the smart card to
buy energy. Recently, the portal technology has been playing an increasing role
in computing. Service providers are rolling out portals to allow users to
create customized web sites that display exactly the information on the Card
and transformer. Corporations are rolling out portals to provide employees and
business partner’s customizable access to corporate information. For web enabled
energy services, and with the introduction of home networking technology, power
companies and service providers can offer value-added services to the homes,
like energy management, to generate additional revenue as well as to increase
convenience and loyalty. In this research work, we propose a novel and simple
prototype of a web enabled smart card based solution for controlling the
consumption of electricity in a home environment. The proposed system can
calculate the total voltage consumption and the structure health condition of
the transformer as well as the total voltage distributed by the transformer.
For a while now, energy conservation has been a topical issue. In practical
terms, people use much more power than what they actually need and that is
responsible for the consequent huge loss of energy.

Moreover, the continuous increase in the
universal energy prices has led to a colossal economical loss. Thus, we are
proposing a prepaid electricity smart card based system that will enable people
to buy specific quantum of energy for use only when needed. People can
subscribe for this service and recharge their accounts through the Mobile
Phone. The power meter used in this study interrupts the controller at a rate
of 0.75Wph based on the particular tariff used and the amount of power
consumption needed, the correct amount of money to be loaded into the card can
be easily calculated and programmed into the chip. The unique feature about
this system is that the electric utility in the home environment can be
accessed remotely from the supplier server. The study provides people with the
opportunity of buying electricity in advance, using the prepaid electricity
cards. Thus, people can use only the amount of power they really require.

The proposed power management system will benefit the end
customer as well as the electric utility in that the customer can recharge his
account wirelessly from his home using Mobile Communication Module and the
status of meter is indicated through a Short Message Services (SMS). The device
will show the remaining balance so that the user knows how much he has consumed
and can plan ahead and know when he needs to recharge the account and moreover,
this strategy provides the utility companies the avenue to collect the expenses
from customers in advance. Thus, they will no longer have to deal with late
payments or non-payment of bills by the customers. This also helps to reduce
electricity theft through bypass.

1.1.1 Motivation

Losses that occur during
generation can be measured, but Transmission and Distribution (T&D) losses
cannot be quantified completely from the end where information is sent.
According to Depuru (2012), distribution losses in several countries have been
reported to be over 30%. Substantial quantity of losses proves that
Non-Technical Losses (NTL) are involved in power distribution. Total losses
during T&D can be evaluated from the information like total load and the
total energy billed, using established standards and formulae. In general, NTL
are as a result of factors external to the power system. Electricity theft
constitutes a major chunk of the NTL.

Electricity theft can be defined
as, using electricity from the utility without a contract or valid obligation
to alter its measurement. The world
over, T&D losses are more than the total installed generation capacity of
countries such as Germany, the UK, or France. It is estimated that around the
world, utilities lose more than $25 billion every year to illegal consumption
of electricity. It has also been discovered that the illegal consumption of
power by the local business sector is on the increase. The quality of the power
generated, transmitted, and distributed has an impact on the power system
components and customer appliances. Due to the illegal consumption of
electricity, estimating the overall load in real time becomes very difficult (Depuru,
Wang, &Devabhaktuni, 2012).

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