A group of engineers and technicians from the Electric Company of Ghana visited Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative’s headquarters and toured its state-of-the-art control center this month to learn more about how Bluebonnet deployed and utilizes advanced meter and other smart grid technology.
“Bluebonnet is widely recognized as having one of the most technologically advanced electric grids of any utility in the nation,” said Mark Rose, Bluebonnet’s general manager. “We are pleased and honored to share with the Electric Company of Ghana our experience and what we learned as we deployed technology that enables Bluebonnet to provide reliable power and for our members to know and control their energy use.”
The Electric Company of Ghana, one of country’s two state-owned electric distribution utilities, is in the early stages of investing in smart grid technology, including advanced meters that are capable of two-way communication. It provides power to 2.5 million meters, about 80 percent of Ghana’s customers, with only 2,500 of its large commercial customers served by AMR (automated meter reading) meters, which are read remotely, rather than manually. It plans to invest $160 million in the next five years to improve its electric grid. ECG provides power to 2.5 million meters,
ECG also visited Austin Energy, San Marcos Utilities, The Electric Reliability Council of Texas and the Public Utility Commission of Texas. The visit was organized by ZPryme, an Austin-based research firm specializing in energy, transportation and mobile technology.
“The delegation from the Electric Company of Ghana was particularly impressed with Bluebonnet and the way it’s using advanced technology to provide reliable power and timely, useful information to its members,” said Jason Rodriguez, ZPryme’s CEO and director of research. “From their visit, ECG learned the important role data, communications and information technology plays once a utility starts to deploy advanced meters. They also learned how this technology extends throughout the entire utility, not just the meter and billing departments, and how it will mutually benefit ECG and its customers. This knowledge will make their technology deployment more efficient and effective, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions.”
Bluebonnet has earned a reputation as one of the most progressive, technologically advanced utilities in the world. The Electric Company of Ghana is the latest foreign utility to visit Bluebonnet to learn about the co-op’s deployment of advanced technology. During the past four years, Bluebonnet has hosted delegations from Australia, Pakistan, Russia and Sudan. Visits have been organized by both private organizations who know about Bluebonnet through their own research and in conjunction with government organizations, including the U.S. State Department.
“What we have done at Bluebonnet can be replicated at any utility in any part of the world, by private or public utilities,” Rose said. “This is why so many international delegations have come to Bluebonnet’s headquarters to learn how we’ve been able to transform our entire electric distribution system through advanced technology.”