Western Power names smart meter suppliers

Western Power has announced the partners which will be providing software and meters for its smart grid trial, with meters expected to be installed by June.

Western Power has announced the partners which will be providing software and meters for its smart grid trial, with meters expected to be installed by June.

Western Power smart grid project manager Andrew Wood told ZDNet.com.au that it had chosen suppliers for the four-year trial, aimed at remotely collecting and analysing customers' energy consumption patterns.

(Power trip image by mugley, CC2.0)

Silver Springs, an American smart grid services provider, will supply communications and network software, while Landis + Gyr will provide the meters, with contracts valued at a combined $5.33 million. Western Power's in-house IT team will complete the systems integration.

Landis + Gyr, an international provider of meters for smart grid projects, also recently signed a contract with CitiPower and Powercor to provide similar technologies to the Victorian smart meter roll-out — the biggest so far in Australia.

Field deployment across WA's eastern corridor, Denmark and Walpole areas, will be conducted by Western Power's metering services provider Service Stream for the sum of $880,000.

IBM, another contractor in Western Power's smart grid trial, won a $500,000 deal in December last year to design the network that connects the smart meters with Western Power's existing systems. According to Wood, the provisions of the contract with IBM have been completed, with IBM "fulfilling its role" in the project.

The trial will see around 11,500 meters installed between April and June this year. The meters will be connected to Western Power systems via its fibre network, with RF mesh communications being used for the last mile.

Over the next two years, data will be collected and analysed to justify the business case of rolling out meters to 1 million users, according to Wood.

Smart meters would allow Western Power access to real-time information on energy consumption and remove the need for manual meter readings. Customers would also be able to access this data, allowing them to track their own energy usage and peak periods.

This trial is only one of many of Western Power's efforts to move towards a smarter electricity network. In 2008, the utility company trialled turning off cooling capabilities in selected customers' air conditioners for up to half an hour in peak times to manage demand. It has also been installing new meters capable of recording data in short time intervals since 2005.

Western Power has previously stated that the understanding of peak energy usage would enable the company to develop effective management strategies and delay the need for extensive infrastructure upgrades.

"The substations, cables, power lines and other infrastructure that we build to support energy needs are not driven by normal consumption, but by the total peak. We build to cover the times of highest energy use, even if those times only amount to a few days a year," Western Power MD Doug Aberle said in a statement in 2008.


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