Industry approach to smart metering in Australia set out


Andrew Blyth,
Chief Executive,
Canberra, Australia — (METERING.COM) — September 16, 2010 – The Energy Networks Association (ENA) of Australia has released a strategy outlining a national approach from industry to pave the way for the development of smart electricity networks.

The document, National Strategy for Smart Electricity Networks, identifies four priority areas that help to organize, prioritize and bring a focus to these activities. Two of these priority areas are customer support mechanisms, which encompass understanding the impact on customers of changes to service offerings and protecting vulnerable customers, and the commercial and regulatory frameworks, which encompass the development of a feasible business and regulatory case for investment. These in turn underpin the other two priority areas, which are aimed at facilitating customer responses and enhancing network capabilities.

The document also identifies four network objectives:

  • Improve the cost effectiveness of network operations and investments
  • Create a platform for customer choice
  • Improve the reliability, quality and security of electricity supplies
  • Facilitate a reduction in carbon emissions.

The transition to smart electricity networks will require considerable effort, including customer awareness campaigns, research and trials of technologies, the development of common standards and protocols (including machine to machine communications, data security and privacy), and fundamental changes to the industry’s skill set and core industry processes, says the strategy.

While electricity distribution businesses are primarily responsible for the development of smart networks, they cannot achieve this change alone. The other stakeholders that are critical to this process are governments, regulators, customer advocacy groups, customers, retailers, generators, equipment and appliance manufacturers and importers, IT and communications providers and researchers.

To meet the challenges ahead in a timely and cost effective manner it is essential that all stakeholders share knowledge and experience, cooperate and coordinate efforts.

“Electricity companies around the world are facing a significant challenge – to supply increasing amounts of electricity while meeting community and government calls for more reliable, environmentally sustainable and affordable energy supplies,” said ENA chief executive Andrew Blyth. “Australian electricity distribution businesses are meeting this challenge by changing the way they operate and gradually modernizing their networks with smarter technologies.”

The ENA also commits itself in the strategy to continuing to contribute to discussions, release position papers and engage the views of other key stakeholders. The Association also will release issue/technology specific roadmaps to ensure stakeholders are kept informed of the current status, critical tasks, major issues, planning and deployment timeframes, and industry’s progress against plans.