Predicting Levels of Household Electricity Consumption in Low-Access Settings

by   Simone Fobi, et al.

In low-income settings, the most critical piece of information for electric utilities is the anticipated consumption of a customer. Electricity consumption assessment is difficult to do in settings where a significant fraction of households do not yet have an electricity connection. In such settings the absolute levels of anticipated consumption can range from 5-100 kWh/month, leading to high variability amongst these customers. Precious resources are at stake if a significant fraction of low consumers are connected over those with higher consumption. This is the first study of it's kind in low-income settings that attempts to predict a building's consumption and not that of an aggregate administrative area. We train a Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) over pre-electrification daytime satellite imagery with a sample of utility bills from 20,000 geo-referenced electricity customers in Kenya (0.01 customers). This is made possible with a two-stage approach that uses a novel building segmentation approach to leverage much larger volumes of no-cost satellite imagery to make the most of scarce and expensive customer data. Our method shows that competitive accuracies can be achieved at the building level, addressing the challenge of consumption variability. This work shows that the building's characteristics and it's surrounding context are both important in predicting consumption levels. We also evaluate the addition of lower resolution geospatial datasets into the training process, including nighttime lights and census-derived data. The results are already helping inform site selection and distribution-level planning, through granular predictions at the level of individual structures in Kenya and there is no reason this cannot be extended to other countries.


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