NRECA takes smart grid to Latin America


Dan Waddle,
Senior VP,
Arlington, VA, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — March 29, 2012 – The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) is supporting pilot smart grid projects at cooperatives in Chile, Costa Rica and Brazil through the newly formed Smart Grid Alliance for the Americas.

The projects will demonstrate the use of advanced metering and communication systems for commercial and industrial customers. Each pilot will be designed to fit the needs of the participating cooperative, but they will share common characteristics in terms of the communication protocols, data acquisition, and data processing features, Dan Waddle, senior vice president of NRECA’s International Programs, told the organization’s

The Smart Grid Alliance is a network to share experience and provide technical assistance to electrical coops and municipal utilities in Latin America. The initial membership includes organizations in the three pilot countries as well as in Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, and Guatemala.

The initiative is being supported with a two-year, $1.2 million state department grant to the NRECA International Foundation. The Foundation is contributing $469,000 in matching funds for the project through the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas.

“The (participants) don’t have access to smart grid technology in the same way that utilities in the U.S. do,” commented Waddle. “So establishing a forum like this, a peer group that brings together a diverse set of utility engineering managers, is actually quite an important activity.”

Through the NRECA’s Cooperative Research Network, the Alliance will also be able to utilize some of the research and results from the organization’s smart grid regional demonstration project currently being conducted, involving 23 coops in 12 states in the U.S.

A key goal of the Alliance is to enable the Latin American partner utilities to gain a better understanding of the potential applications and benefits of advanced smart grid technologies. The Alliance will also work on utility assessments, designs and implementation of demonstration pilot projects to help determine appropriate smart grid investments for local utilities. It will also work to increase capacity to employ and maintain smart grid technology and infrastructure, and to use it to improve utility performance.