IBM has won a deal with Western Australian energy provider Western Power as a systems integration and project management partner for a smart meter pilot.
In the $500,000 contract, signed in October, IBM will design a network which will link up smart meters and existing Western Power systems.
IBM is going to be "augmenting" Western Power's internal IT team which will carry out the hands on integration work, according to Western Power's smart grid manager Lisa Cunningham. The installation of 10,500 meters involved in the four-year pilot will be carried out by another third party.
The tender for the smart meter installation has already been released. Cunningham said that a decision would be made in January. IBM has already started to work on identifying system requirements, nutting out network architecture and developing implementation plans. Installation is scheduled to begin in early 2010.
The pilot is part of Perth's $73.5 million Solar City project. Under the program, Perth inhabitants will receive free energy advisory services and price reductions on solar hot water and photovoltaic systems in the hopes that consumers will rethink the way they use energy.
The meters would provide real-time information on energy consumption, remove the need for manual meter readings and the need to log fault calls, according to Western Power. Connecting and disconnecting services will also be able to be carried out more quickly.
"Having a smart meter installed will enable customers to view consumption rates and costs of appliances. The smart meter also automatically alerts Western Power to power interruptions and enables rapid outage management," Cunningham said in a statement.
IBM is also working on smart grids with other utilities such as Energy Australia and Country Energy.