Government moves west for further smart grid trials

8900 residents in Perth's eastern suburbs will gain access to smart meters as part of a new Federal Government trial

Western Power will start rolling out smart meters to nearly 9000 homes in Perth’s eastern suburbs in this year as part of a new $15 million, three-year trial.

The meters will be installed at no cost to residents in 8900 premises across the Perth suburbs of Bassendean, Midland, Forrestfield and Darlington.

Utility Western Power will be footing up to $13 million of the total cost in order to “determine the suitability for a range of new technologies right across the network”.

Though launched by the Western Australia energy minister, Peter Collier, this week, the trial is jointly funded between Western Power and the Federal Government, which recently awarded Energy Australia the contract for its $100 million Smart Grid, Smart City trial in NSW.

The state-based trial of smart grid technology will be used to provide new utility usage information to residents, while also forming the basis for other technology trials, such as electric cars.

“As part of this trial, smart meter customers will be able to take part in energy efficiency initiatives such as air conditioner trials, time-of-use tariffs and in-home displays, which will soon be offered,” Collier said in a statement.

“For householders who want to embrace a sustainable future with energy efficiency, solar panels and electric vehicles, this is the way forward.”

The trial is also part of the wider Solar Cities initiative from the Federal Government, a three-year program in which eligible residents in Perth’s eastern suburbs are able to receive discounts for solar energy systems.

The trial is expected to run until 2013, though some details about how the smart grid trial will run are yet to be ascertained, such as how Western Power will receive data from the smart meters. Energy Australia has announced it will be using a proprietary WiMAX network to deliver this information, though piggybacking off the residents’ existing Internet connection or powerline networking are also viable alternatives.

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