Cali Colombia smart grid project
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Cali Colombia smart grid project
Smart grid project: Colombian utility EMCALI is deploying automated technology in buildings across the city of Cali in a bid to reduce load demand on the grid

In Latin America, a city in Colombia has embarked on a smart grid project with the rollout of US grid management company Innovari's platform.

Colombian utility Empresas Municipales de Cali (EMCALI) has deployed Innovari's Interactive Energy Platform within its service area of 600,000 electricity customers, reports PennEnergy.

The city of Cali has already conducted a feasiblity study on the software in a bid to improve peak energy demand management.

The area experienced a drought in 2014 highlighting its over dependency on hydroelectric power.

Automated changes to energy usage

The smart grid project involves the participation of 14 supermarkets, the Universidad del Valle campus and EMCALI's corporate offices.

The Interactive Energy Platform will automate temporary changes in thermostat settings and turning off lighting in a bid to reduce load.

The results can then be monitored in real time.

Commenting on the need for the smart grid project, Andres Felipe Jaramillo Salazar, EMCALI manager of the energy strategic business unit, said: "The Interactive Energy Platform automates electricity consumption during peak hours using an approach that is so subtle and efficient, there is no noticeable impact on business operations or customer experience.

"Customers report that buildings still feel cool, yet they are reducing demand on the grid, while saving money and contributing to more affordable and reliable power across the region," added Salazar.

Smart grid projects in Latin America

The project highlights the potential for smart grid technology companies in Latin America.

In March 2015, president of Ericsson’s industry and society division for Latin America said the utilities sector in the region "offers the largest business opportunity for applying smart technologies" but a lack of regulation is holding back smart grid deployments.

Ericsson's Jo Arne Lindstad said its work in Latin America is focused on three core areas to develop smart solutions in the region, investing in transport and public safety (smart cities), utilities and financial services.

The Swedish provider of communications technology and services said that while the transport and public safety sectors provide the bulk of opportunities, utilities hold the most promise of “unprecedented magnitude” for the application of smart technologies, albeit a slow sales cycle.

Lindstad added: “Utilities transformation has been relatively slow in Latin America because there is no regulation yet in place. It's not like Europe or the US where there are clear deadlines for when the networks have to be smart.”