More than 1.5 million homes and businesses in New South Wales can now get new electronic smart meters installed for free under an annual $20 million programme that gives them more control over their electricity bills. The move comes after an investigation by EnergyAustralia of 10,300 household electricity accounts already using the smart meters and time-based pricing revealed that households were saving an average $45 a year on their electricity costs compared to EnergyAustralia’s standard domestic rate.
The approach of the end of a year is always a time for reflection and 2007 has proven to be an interesting and important year for the metering industry.
The first major trend of note was the remarkable surge in interest in smart metering – and not just in the US but across the globe from Europe to Australasia. As analyst Karen Blackmore writes in these pages, as a result of initiatives that have surfaced during the past year in countries that one might not have put on the “top ten” list, “smart metering (is) truly a worldwide event.” (page ..) And in this magazine and at the events that Smart Energy International has hosted, the “buzz” and “energy” has been palpable, with more and more people wanting to keep abreast with developments and network with industry peers.
The company’s in-house designed and developed Pulse IMS uses advanced communication technologies to offer flexible and innovative automated meter reading solutions. Its end to end solutions incorporate meter and relay products, transaction engines, database, web interface and sophisticated communications, including power line carrier communications, GPRS, RF, broadband, SMS and dial-up.
[img:Utility%20customer%20switching%20research%20project.thumbnail.jpg| ]Auckland, New Zealand --- (METERING.COM) --- September 3, 2007 - The Australian state of Victoria has ranked as the hottest energy retail market in the world, with almost one in four Victorian utility customers switching suppliers during 2006, a new survey by First Data Utilities and VaasaETT has found.
Great Britain, long the pre-eminent energy market, is now ranked in second place, followed closely by South Australia. All three “hot” markets, with over 15 percent of customers switching per year, have separately-owned retail and distribution utilities, and support competition for both electricity and gas retail supply. This enables utilities in these markets to offer dual-fuel products and cross-sell both commodities to consumers who previously had to deal with separate electricity and gas suppliers.
Switching activity in Victoria has shown a consistently strong uptrend since full retail competition for electricity and gas was introduced in 2002, which continued into 2006. Factors contributing to this dramatic level of switching activity include strong competition from out-of-state incumbents and new entrant energy retailers contending for market share, the introduction of lifestyle products and affinity programs targeted at niche customer segments, and publicly accessible websites which allow customers to compare suppliers’ prices.
Despite losing the number one spot customer switching in Great Britain has also continued to increase, reaching its highest level in history. In the past year impetus has come from retail price reductions and increasing use of innovative price mechanisms. Great Britain has been at the forefront of utility customer switching for over seven years, proving that high levels of activity can be sustained in the long term.
The survey found the fourth most active market in the world to be Texas, maintaining its ranking from the previous year, despite an increase in switching activity by one-third. Consistently the most active North American energy retail market and the only one to separate incumbent utility retail operations from distribution, switching activity exhibits considerable seasonality increasing during the summer months.
Other “active” markets, with between 5 and 15 percent of customers switching per year, were Norway, New South Wales, New Zealand, Sweden, Finland, Netherlands and Flanders.
In the “slow” category, with switching levels between one and five percent, were New York and Germany – both of which also recorded increased customer switching activity during 2006. Denmark, formerly ranked as a slow market, dropped to the “dormant” category (less than one percent switching), following the merger of six leading Danish utilities and the effective stifling of retail competition.
The survey forms part of the Utility Customer Switching Research Project, which monitors customer switch rates and trends in over 30 competitive energy retail markets worldwide.
Kenyon will report to Elster Integrated Solutions president Sharon Allan. He will be responsible for the operating performance of EIS for Australia, New Zealand and surrounding areas. He holds a degree in Computer Science from CAS, Adelaide, and has over 25 years of global management experience in a variety of leadership business roles including operation, product development, customer service and business development. Kenyon is a seasoned AMI/AMR veteran with over 17 years’ experience in this market, having served as managing director of Datamatic Asia Pacific and managing director of Itron Australasia prior to joining EIS.
By Ezra Beeman and Boris Kobal
Two complementary initiatives have been launched over a two-year period to test and develop the company’s original $282 million* business case. The first was the Strategic Pricing Study, which addressed uncertainties around customer price responsiveness, and the second was the AMI pilot, which addressed uncertainties around AMI costs and operational benefits.
By Maria Cugnetto
This is all part of the new national Reform Agenda that the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to in February 2006. The commitments put forward included the progressive national rollout of ‘smart’ electricity meters from 2007 to allow the introduction of time-of-day pricing and to enable users to better manage their demand for peak power. It was also to be in accordance with an implementation plan that was to have regard to costs and benefits and to take into account the different market circumstances in each state and territory. The rollout is likely to take five years or more.
Since its inaugural meeting in February 2007, the Utility Metering Association (UMA) committee has met monthly and has been active in improving the website. As specified at the launch in Brisbane, the website will be the main forum where utility professionals and nonprofessionals (electricity, gas, water, irrigation) can discuss and debate issues associated with the development of a holistic, strategic approach to metering systems.