Cuisia lauds GE's 'smart grids' investment in PH

by Rodney Jaleco, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Posted at Oct 17 2012 10:48 AM | Updated as of Oct 17 2012 06:48 PM

WASHINGTON D.C. - American multinational General Electric will build "smart grids" in the Philippines that could lower power costs and make the country more attractive to foreign investors, Philippine Ambassador Jose. L. Cuisia Jr. said.

The country’s top envoy lauded GE’s plan to introduce smart grid technology together with Meralco. Top power sector executives are visiting Atlanta, Ga., Oklahoma, Florida and Washington DC for a tour organized by GE.

“With smart grid technology in place, the competitiveness of the Philippines as an investment-site-of-choice will be further enhanced,” Cuisia, a former Central Bank chief and business executive, pointed out.

A “smart grid” uses information and communications technology to more quickly see and act on the behavior of suppliers and consumers. They’re supposed to produce efficiency in production and distribution of electricity that could lead to savings that can be passed on to power users in the form of lower rates.

Cuisia welcomed the tie-up between GE-Philippines and Meralco, the country’s largest distributor of electric power, of a smart grid consulting engagement agreement to help Meralco “develop long-term Smart Grid plans, strategies, and roadmaps and enable the company to continue delivering higher quality services, more efficient energy and overall increased benefits to customers.”

He noted that Meralco has already introduced prepaid electricity in some parts of the country and is investing in enterprise computing and smart grids to enhance automation and intelligence at critical points within the Meralco network.

Smart grids are touted to be the future of energy distribution and now used in countries like the US, China, Japan, France and Spain.

The country’s top trading partners like Japan has been encouraging the Philippines to embrace smart grid technology as a way of improving services, reducing outages and ensuring the reliability of the country’s power sector.

Cuisia met with GE Philippines CEO Emmanuel de Dios, Meralco Sr. Vice Pres. Alfred Panlilio, Energy Regulatory Commissioner Jose Reyes and other government and private sector executives who joined the US visit.

“This tour will help us understand the impact of the technology on each state’s energy efficiency programs,” De Dios told Ambassador Cuisia.

Panlilio, for his part, emphasized that it provided “deeper insight into actual customer experiences.”

The study tour was part of GE’s efforts to further expand its presence in the Philippines where it first made its presence in 1890 when its predecessor, Thomas-Houston Electric Company, installed the first electric streetlights along Real Street in Manila.