Horizon Power prepares for data onslaught

Smart meters open opportunities for WA utility

WA power provider Horizon Power is preparing for a significant leap in the data it obtains from its network as it reaps the benefits of a 12-month rollout of advanced electricity meters.

Horizon is around three quarters of the way through a smart meter program covering some 48,000 customers, according to Geoff Pearson, business intelligence coordinator at the government-owned utility.

“Over the last 12 months we’ve basically replaced 48,000 meters with advanced metering,” Pearson said.

“We will have by the end of June this year the ability to be able to read every customer’s meter at one-minute intervals, so we’re going to have a wealth of data to be able to analyse and use to better serve our customers.”

Horizon is a vertically integrated utility that covers electricity generation, distribution and retail for customers in rural WA. The company serves some 2.3 million square kilometres, with independent networks throughout its service area.

Following a structural review, the utility went through a process that has seen access to data decentralised throughout the business to drive efficiencies. The process included deploying a new analytics platform — Qlik’s QlikView — which has offered more timely reporting for the business, Pearson said.

Some 300 people have access to the platform compared to the hundred or so who had access to its predecessor.

Analysing the data generated from advanced meters opens up a range of possibilities for Horizon, Pearson said, including the possibility of time-of-use tariffs to encourage the use of off-peak electricity.

The meters don’t just deliver data about energy consumption but also voltage on the network and outages.

In addition to metering, Horizon’s data sources include power stations and electricity network elements, as well as the expected range of business and financial data.

Deploying the new reporting platform has helped Horizon to shift towards a more proactive, data-driven approach for its operations Pearson said.

“We’re moving to a position where we’re able to look at data in real time and respond to things in real time,” he said.

In addition to the tariff review program, Horizon has two other major data-driven projects, Pearson said.

The first is a transformer monitoring program. Previously, Horizon would manually sample the customer load on a transformer twice a year then analyse that data.

“Now we’ve got a complete snapshot of the transformer and how much load is on that transformer by adding up all the customers that are connected to it,” he said.

“We’ve got the complete history of it over a 12-month period so we can see exactly how that transformer is being utilised.”

That kind of analysis can deliver significant savings to Horizon, he said.

The third program is based on analysing the impact of solar energy generation on the network and making that data accessible to Horizon’s engineers.

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