In a ground-breaking trial and part of its smart grid initiative, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority has signed an agreement with PowerNET International to engage in a trial of a high-voltage broadband over power lines communications network. The trial will use technology from International Broadband Electric Communications, Inc. (IBEC) and Amperion, Inc.

The cost to install HVBPL is a fraction of installing other types of communications networks because HVBPL relies on established and existing high-voltage electric power lines and infrastructure. The actual HVBPL technology was developed with a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy in 2007 and the first successful tests of the patented technology were announced in 2009.

HVBPL connects substations via transmission lines. "HVBPL can backhaul aggregated data from the grid's feeders and from inside the substation, enabling applications such as line protection, SCADA expansion, video surveillance, substation automation, and data and voice backhaul," said Nachum Sadan, CEO of Amperion.

PREPA is a government-owned electric power generation, transmission and distribution utility company and the main provider of electric power to all residential, commercial and government entities in Puerto Rico. PowerNET, working with IBEC and Amperion, will provide project management and oversight throughout the network design and initial testing of the HVBPL trial.

Last March, PREPA, PowerNET and IBEC announced the deployment of a smart grid BPL communications network to provide a high-speed, "always-on" communications pipeline over medium and low voltage power lines for the purpose of interconnecting and testing IP based smart grid energy monitoring and administrations systems.