Meralco plans capex spending on smart grid in 2016

Meralco smart grid budget
Meralco has asked the regulator to approve capex spending in 2016 on smart grid technology including ADMS and smart prepaid meters

In South-east Asia, Meralco, the Philippines’ largest electricity distributor, plans to spend a large part of a US$32 million budget on smart grid technology.

The Manila Electric Company (Meralco) confirmed last week it has filed a proposed budget of 1.5billion Philippine Peso with the Energy Regulatory Commission for approval, reports local news source Manila Bulletin.

Meralco first vice president and head of networks Ronnie L. Aperocho told local reporters that system automation will account for a “significant part” of the utility’s capital expenditure for the regulatory year 2016.

Meralco plans to spend on an advanced distribution management system project that is intended for multi-year implementation.

Meralco extends AMI rollout

Mr Aperocho said the utility has also earmarked US$16 million of capex to expand its advanced metering infrastructure rollout.
In June 2015, Meralco secure approval for a 40,000 rollout of smart prepaid meters as part of its spend in 2015.

Commenting on the need for more spending on smart grid technology, Aperocho said: “When we automate our system, we don’t rely much on the manual capability of our people… the good thing about it is, we provide the intelligence to the system.

“When a particular segment of our system is affected, we can readily isolate the system and restore power to unaffected portion of the circuit.”

Drones for grid inspection

Another element of the budgetary plan is to invest in three drones to inspect areas of the grid that are geographically hard to reach.

Aperocho said: “We will be flying the drones maybe in next months to help us in the assessment especially if there is a strong typhoon or weather disturbance…  some areas cannot be accessed by our crew because of flood, or some of the roads are blocked… so we will be using the drones for assessment,”

He indicated that “initially, we are planning to buy three drones, one per area – north, central and south, depending on the result of the pilot.”

Aperocho added that once concerns with the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines are resolved “we have to secure permits from concerned authorities on the use of the drones, and hopefully, we will be buying more drones,” the Manila Bulletin reported.