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An electric power distribution system is what carries electricity directly to end-users such as homes and factories.
A typical distribution system comprises wires, poles, step-down transformers and meters.
These electric distribution systems receive power from high-voltage transmission lines, which are connected to generation plants.
Until recently most power utilities were vertically integrated, in that a single firm provided power generation, transmission, distribution, metering and billing services.
However, regulators in some countries, in a bid to promote innovation and fluidity, have pushed for competition by separating retail, distribution and generation services.
Some argue restructuring, or the breaking up of vertically integrated utilities, is beneficial; others argue it is counterproductive as operational and reliability benefits are eliminated.
Among the biggest distributors in Brazil is AES Eletropaulo. The firm provides electricity to 24 municipalities in São Paulo state under a 30-year concession ending in 2028. The firm serves around 6mn clients in a concession area of 4,562km2. Its assets include more than 46,000 km of distribution and transmission lines, 152 substations and over 202,000 distribution transformers.
Founded in 1899, it became property of São Paulo state in 1981 until its privatization in 1998, when it was acquired by a consortium that included AES Corp and Eletricité de France (EDF). US-based AES obtained control of the Brazilian firm in 2011.