Mexican electric power utility company Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE) is conducting a smart grid project to use wireless data radios to monitor and control crucial electric power applications. After CFE selected Elster Group’s EnergyAxis smart grid solution in April to power the utility’s first advanced metering infrastructure project, CFE has chosen FreeWave Technologies to provide wireless data radio applications, such as power consumption and substation monitoring, as well as control and monitoring of power networks.
Owned by Mexico’s government, CFE generates, transmits and distributes power and energy to nearly 100 million customers. It currently is using FreeWave’s FGR2-PE, FGR115-RC and HTPlus wireless data radios for supervision and monitoring power systems in nine of the 16 divisions throughout Mexico. Some of the networks are installed in heavily populated cities, such as Mexico City, Monterrey and Guadalajara, where RF noise and line-of-sight issues can pose problems for wireless communications.
With CFE being Mexico’s sole energy provider, FreeWave radios also were relied upon for data transmission in a wide range of geographical areas, from large cities to remote mountains and deserts. In addition, FreeWave’s Ethernet models help manage serial and Ethernet devices at the same time, allowing radioed data to be incorporated with LAN networks.
When asked whether Mexican companies are ready for smart grid solutions, Craig Held, FreeWave’s general manager for international operations, said, “Automatic meters have been around for a while, and in Mexico they certainly have been demonstrating progress.”
The plan with CFE, Held said, is to expand its capabilities across Mexico City. According to Federico Ibarra Otero, senior account manager at FreeWave reseller Ampere, the main goal is to automate the reading and to have all information powering meters.
When the project was announced, Mexico’s energy secretary and CFE said they would use Elster’s EnergyAxis pilot as a benchmark for evaluating the advantages of smart grid technologies for potential future deployments.
In Latin American countries, FreeWave works only through resellers. The largest international reseller, Ampere, supports CFE in Mexico.
FreeWave does not disclose its financial information or forecasts, but Held said he’s “very happy” with growth in Latin America’s growth, where the company has been operating in 2003. “We are very happy with the progress we are making and with the penetration of FreeWave in the marketplace. Projects, such as in Mexico, are key,” Held said.
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