Smart solutions for the future utility in Central America and the Caribbean


Federico Restrepo
Posada, General
Manager, EPM
Medellín, Colombia — (METERING.COM) — May 7, 2009 – Within Central America and the Caribbean, a range of technologies from prepayment to advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) are “smart” and are appropriate for the region, delegates to the 3rd Metering Central America & Caribbean event agreed.

The event, which took place in Medellín, Colombia from April 27-29, was attended by 250 delegates from across Latin America, who came to review smart solutions for the future utility in Central America and the Caribbean and to view in the exhibition technologies available for the region.

The event was officially opened by Federico Restrepo Posada, general manager of EPM, the host utility, who described briefly the company’s main project currently to install prepayment. Saying that as many as 40 percent of the local population were not on a fixed wage, Restrepo Posada commented that it was primarily for these customers that a prepayment system was being installed. Initially the plan had been to introduce approximately 35,000 prepayment meters but such had been the success of the program that it was be expanded up to 50,000 meters throughout EPM’s service area across the state of Antioquia.

A panel discussion followed on the role of smart technologies and solutions in shaping the new utility landscape. Moderator Renato Céspedes, Latin American director of Kema, pointed out the pivotal role of AMI and the smart grid. Gregorio Amado Padrón, Santiago Sector director of Edenorte in the Dominican Republic, highlighted the need to reduce losses, while Jorge Valencia Marin, technical secretary of the Comité Asesor de Comercialización of Colombia, stressed the need for information, both for the utility and its customers. José Inostroza Lopez, former general manager of Codensa and now general manager of the Consorcio Energetico Punta Cana Macao (CEPM) in the Dominican Republic, said the word today is “energy efficiency.”
Following the discussion, the program continued with sessions on regulatory issues, meter testing and standards, prepayment, AMR and AMI, and intelligent grids, before closing on the second day with a panel discussion on how smart metering and smart grid technologies will evolve to support the utility of the future. Among the contributions Victor Rivera Diaz, general manager of EMSA in Colombia, highlighted the role of AMI in improving customer satisfaction and the financial and operational performances of the utility, while Gilberto Vidrio López, researcher and project manager at the Instituto de Investigacones Electricas in Mexico, described the smart grid as an opportunity in time of crisis, saying the smart grid is about is about reducing losses and energy efficiency.

On the final day of the event delegates were able to view EPM’s prepayment deployment, visiting households with prepayment meters and a token supplier in the El Popular suburb of Medellín.

Metering Central America & Caribbean is now firmly established on the annual event calendar and planning is already under way for next year’s fourth event.