Deregulation pushes IT implementation at EnergyAustralia

Staring down the barrel of deregulation within the electricity industry in three years, EnergyAustralia is set to begin implementation of a sophisticated distribution management system (DMS).

Believed to be worth about $5 million, the DMS is supplied by systems integrator MITS, which is scheduled to start installation later this month.

Australia's largest electricity supply company, EnergyAustralia provides power to more than 1.3 million customers. Under proposed deregulation, to come into effect within the next three years, all customers in Australia's eastern states will be able to select their electricity supplier. This increased competition, according to an EnergyAustralia official, has led the utility to investigate technological solutions to a problem that was previously overcome using an old-fashioned cork board.

Management of the network is carried out now using a wall board which details the sections of the network that need maintenance. Affected sections are marked using a drawing pin, allowing operators to record network configuration.

Under the new regime, however, all that information will be managed and made available electronically. This, according to EnergyAustralia's network control manager, Lynton Jamieson, will allow the company's operators to run its network more efficiently and, most importantly, more safely.

"The wall board system does not allow us to share knowledge on the state of our network. As it is based on manual, hard copy diagrams, and it is very site specific, it is difficult for operators at various sites to gain a wholistic view of the network," Jamieson said.

"[With the new system] we will be able to direct workloads to match the resources available, regardless of location."

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