QUITO, Ecuador, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- Ecuador is on track to launch the largest Smart Grid project in Latin America in a multimillion-dollar collaboration with GE Energy that sets a benchmark for electricity management in the region.
Ecuador's Electrica de Guayaquil said it decided to invest in a brand new smart meter infrastructure to streamline reliable supply amid projected economic growth through 2012.
Households across the Latin American country should expect to see "improvements in the reliability of their electric service," GE said.
About 25,000 meters will be installed in the country by Electrica de Guayaquil, the second phase of a complete overhaul of the country's meters, which will eventually replace nearly 200,000 meters.
Ecuador has faced charges it squandered its oil wealth during years of mismanagement. It suspended its membership of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries when it couldn't pay its subscription fees but returned to the group in 2007, mainly to better manage its share of the global oil market.
The investment in the electricity supply infrastructure is part of an overall streamlining of the energy sector, officials said.
"Improving Ecuador's energy outlook is a very important factor in improving Ecuador's economic outlook," Electrica de Guayaquil General Manager Oscar Armijos Gonzalez-Rubio said.
"The information, network management and efficiency gains from this new meter infrastructure will help us get the most benefit from our electric grid," he added.
GE said that as part of an overall grid modernization strategy, its meter network will enable remote connect and disconnect of customers, the collection of usage information for efficiency planning and future enhancements such as demand response control and pre-payment.
GE will deliver smart meters with advanced metering infrastructure and RF communications. Trilliant will provide the communications platform.
"EDG is becoming a Latin American leader in adopting new technologies to improve energy service," said Roberto Vengoechea, general manager, Digital Energy Latin America.
"These smart meters give EDG the data points and capabilities to change consumers' relationships with electricity. The enhanced network control and efficiency tools enabled by smart meters open doors to the very latest energy innovations that can increase productivity and efficiency while reducing and minimizing outages," he said.
GE has been expanding its Latin America network, which is about 90 years old. Recently the energy giant announced a $500 million GE Global Research Center project in Rio de Janeiro.
GE operates in more than 100 countries and employs about 300,000 people worldwide.