Smart grid Meralco and Silver Spring Networks
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Meralco PowerTech smart grid RnD
Meralco officially launched the PowerTech smart grid RnD centre this week, which is set for completion in 2017

In South-East Asia, the Philippines' largest distributor of electric power Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) this week launched a smart grid research and development centre.

The facility called PowerTech is designed as an incubator for smart grid components as well as technical training.

The centre based at Meralco's headquarters in Ortigas will be split into different zones.

The Grid Adventure, Endeavor, Pathfinder and Resolution (Training Labs); the Grid Enterprise (Test Area), the Grid Discovery (Innovation Center) and the Grid Inspiration (Auditorium) are all due to open in early 2017.

Meralco officials said engineers working in PowerTech will go beyond theoretical learning to focus on simulation work, reported local media.

Ronnie L. Aperocho, company VP and head of networks at Meralco, said The Grid Enterprise section allows participants to test emerging technologies under a simulated network before these are applied to the entire Meralco system.

Participants can also interact with industry experts in The Grid Inspiration section of PowerTech.

Oscar Reyes, president and CEO at Meralco, said: “In Meralco, we believe that a true center of excellence is ultimately defined by the interplay of best in class hardware, software and most important, highly competent and innovative professionals."

The building itself will be powered by renewable energy sources such as solar and wind and use natural lighting and ventilation.

City-level smart grid platform

In other smart grid news, a municipal electric and water utility in Texas has commissioned Silver Spring Networks to deliver a smart grid networking platform.

New Braunfels Utilities will deploy Silver Spring's municipal and cooperative utility solution that included advanced metering infrastructure for electricity, water, and natural gas customers, demand response, distribution automation, and other critical infrastructure and smart city applications.

Commenting on the need for the smart grid platform, Trino Pedraza, systems technology manager at NBU, said: “NBU delivers a range of energy and water services to customers, so a platform that combines high performance with reliability, cost-effectiveness, and support for multiple applications was crucial in our selection.”

Silver Spring is working with other US municipal and cooperative utilities such as Choptank Electric Cooperative, City Utilities of Springfield and CPS Energy.