Neoenergia relies on graffiti at substations to foster safety in communities



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Neoenergia’s energy providers  are using art as a strategy to raise population’s awareness, to reduce cases of vandalism and to prevent accidents in their substations. An example is the new Guarujá 04 Substation, belonging to Elektro, an energy provider on the coast of São Paulo. A 155-m long mural was installed for graffiti interventions on the importance of energy, and with tips on safety and savings. The action was conducted by a couple of artists, Wilis and Leila Cavalcante, who live in the place and teach visual arts to approximately 100 teenagers in a social project they maintain with the income from works like this one.

The initiative has already been adopted by other providers of the company in the Northeast: Coelba (BA), Celpe (PE) and Cosern (RN). Artistic interventions are being set in the following new substations: Três Lagoas, belonging to Elektro, in Mato Grosso do Sul; São Lourenço, belonging to Celpe; and Juazeiro 4, belonging to Coelba.

"Our purpose to implement graffiti is to inhibit vandalism, such as scrawling graffiti, in addition to improving network safety by raising awareness of safety habits, showing that the population should not jump walls or fly kites close to electricity networks. Our experience in the Northeast and now in the Guarujá 04 substation has already shown that, with nicer and more colorful walls, the community feels more engaged and we achieve a better result in partnership with the residents", says Neoenergia’s Manager of Expansion of Substations, José Ferraz.

The artists responsible for the mural installed in the Guarujá 04 substation agree that artistic intervention has the advantage of building a bridge with the community and represents a social benefit. “We noticed the positive interaction of the residents with the mural from the very beginning of the work. People stopped, praised the mural and took photos. With art, the place is no longer seen only as the substation because the community feels they are part of it, and this helps prevent, for example, garbage dumping. At times, we brought some students from the community to check the intervention, and they were proud of it. Also, a student who lives across the street from the substation said she was proud to have this art in the community, says Leila Cavalcante.

The Guarujá 04 substation is located in the Cantagalo community, the living place of part of the students she and her partner Wilis teach at the Asas Institute's School of Visual Arts. In the social project, the couple offers free graffiti training for low-income teenagers aged 12 to 17 years who live in the communities of the region. Our work out on the streets and in the courses manages to survive thanks to companies that believe in art. The mural we made for Elektro is also a social work that values artists and brings the community closer. It adds value”, states the artist.

The mural has six panels with illustrations and sentences that raise awareness about the danger of energy theft, energy efficiency, safety in buildings, risks of entering the substation without a permit, the importance of energy and a warning to avoid areas near the electric networks when flying kites.

The intervention was carried out in March, two months after the substation started operating. The new plant has a capacity of 33 MVA, distributed in five feeders of 13.8 kV, and has GIS technology (Gas Insulated Substation), which increases its efficiency, in addition to an automated system for remote operation by Elektro's Distribution Operation Center (COD), in Campinas (SP). With the delivery, the energy available to more than 100,000 customers was expanded. During the preparation of the mural, a health and safety protocol was adopted for prevention of Covid-19, with the mandatory use of masks and distancing.

Similar initiatives are being carried out in substations in three states of the Northeast. “We have had positive experiences in several formats, either by hiring local artists as we did in Guarujá, or by providing materials for the community itself to carry out the interventions. In all of them, we got greater people awareness and, as a consequence, more safety”, explains José Ferraz.