South Sudanese ministers tour Bluebonnet smart grid


Bastrop, TX, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — May 19, 2009 – A delegation from the government of Southern Sudan has embarked on a weeklong program of discussions with public and private sector companies under host Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative, which is also providing a tour of its smart grid system.

“We are excited to host the South Sudanese leaders and hear about their plans to develop a smart grid,” said Matt Bentke, COO of Bluebonnet Electric Coop. “As a rural electrical coop that has successfully implemented a smart grid, we believe we will be able to share ideas and best practices that will be particularly helpful to this group.”

Former United States Ambassador at Large and Coordinator for Refugee Affairs, Eugene Douglas of Austin, and Nile Trading & Development of Dallas organized this effort, making it the first of its kind in Texas. During a working visit to the country last fall, Douglas discussed the region’s most urgent priorities with its leaders and found that Texas has an opportunity to assist Southern Sudan with its efforts to rebuild.

Southern Sudan will hold a referendum in 2011 to determine whether the current Autonomous Government of Southern Sudan remains part of a “Unity Government” or becomes a fully sovereign and independent state. If a new, independent state prevails, officials want the focus to be on a green economy with emphasis on environmental management, clean air and water and alternate energy.

The Southern Sudan delegation comprises four senior cabinet ministers, the deputy governor of the State of Central Equatoria and the director general of power supply.

Bluebonnet, one of the largest electric cooperatives in Texas, began its smart grid project five years ago. Since then, the cooperative has installed a two-way grid along 11,000 miles of line and deployed 80,000 smart meters, covering its 3,800 square mile service territory. The cooperative was able to fully implement the smart grid with only two minimal rate increases, and over the course of the project, it was able to utilize the newly implemented technology to save money.

Bluebonnet’s vision is to go a step further by implementing a Sustainable Grid(TM), which encompasses three main ideas: net energy market, economic development and education empowerment. Members will be able to generate electricity, conserve electricity and shift their load at peak times. This will empower members with the right to know and control their electric usage and the right to be a full partner in generating the electricity they use. Fundamentally, the goal is to neutralize, if not reduce, the system’s impact on the overall state grid.