SP Ausnet on track for Victorian smart grid rollout

SP Ausnet set to roll out 75,000 smart meters this year

Victorian electricity distributor SP AusNet has nearly completed phase one of its rollout of some 680,000 smart meters in the state.

In a deal signed in October last year, the Victorian Government is set to provide management of the end-to-end meter exchange component for its Advanced Metering Infrastucture (AMI) program.

ICT general manager, Ashley Peck, said it had rolled out just under 50,000 smart meters with the aim to get to 75,000 by the end of 2010.

The deployment is focused on homes and small businesses in the state’s eastern and north-eastern regions.

“In terms of customer feedback I don’t believe it has been any different considering we’re still reading meters the same way that we’ve always done,” he said.

SP AusNet plans to finish the rollout in 2013 with the company indicating there will be a progressive ramp up of smart meters in 2011.

Peck said the implementation has “had its challenges”, including getting some smart meters in place, but machine to machine communications between the WIMAX technology and its smart meters has been seamless.

“As we get more and more meters, those challenges may increase,” he said.

According to Peck, the first phase of the project is about getting the infrastructure and architecture right.

“We need the smart meter to communicate with our network and application infrastructure. Over the next two years comes the meter rollout, that’s in line with the Victorian Government timeline,” he said.

At present, the company is not collecting data from the smart meters as data collection will not go live until 10 December 2010.

SP Ausnet is also involved with research into smart grids.

“This focuses on what we can do to smarten our network and one of those opportunities is to leverage the investment we’ve made into building better smart grids but that’s in its infancy and I’m sure those ideas will gain traction over the next 12 months,” he said.

Victoria is on par with other countries in the Asia Pacific region doing similar trials such as China, Peck said.

“There is a lot of interest [within Australia] around what we are doing and seeing where some of the pros and cons around the technology are,” he said.

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