T&D World Magazine

SP AusNet Selects GE for 4G Communications Smart Grid Solution

SP AusNet, one of Australia’s largest utilities, will be the first in the world to implement GE’s WiMAX 4G smart grid solution. Working with other top-tier technology and telecommunications companies, GE is introducing a smart grid solution to deliver security and reliability benefits to nearly 700,000 Australian households, while helping SP AusNet prepare for the future of smart grid innovation—from plug-in cars to solar on rooftops.

Because the solution is based on open standards, GE was able to work with a consortium of open standards-based technology companies to deliver this holistic solution to SP AusNet. GE is providing the meter communications technology across the entire network, while supplying half of the project’s smart meters. GridNet supplied the PolicyNet network management system software suite to manage the meters, controllers, switches and other devices throughout SP AusNet’s smart grid network. Motorola is providing the communications infrastructure.

The Victoria state government has mandated its entire service area be upgraded to smart meters by 2013. In addition to meters, future functionality is an important benefit for Australian utilities. Australia’s Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts expects the country to have 10 million households in 2020, resulting in a 56% increase in energy demand. At the same time, the Australia government aims to reduce carbon emissions by 10% and increase renewable generation to 20% by 2020.

GE’s WiMAX smart grid solution will give SP AusNet the option to provide variable pricing throughout the day—enabling consumers to manage their energy usage and save money by moving energy-intensive activities to lower-cost, off-peak periods. With the right rate structure, SP AusNet could spread demand more evenly throughout the day and offset the need for new power generation.

This solution also will enable utilities to monitor the health and status of smart grid devices in real-time, helping ensure consistent reliability for customers.

In addition to offering advanced protection and tampering prevention, the technology also will exceed industry standards to deliver “government-grade” security benefits, based upon requirements and standards set forth by the U.S. Department of Defense, to help maintain the effectiveness of computer security and computer system controls.

Smart meter installation begins over the coming months and runs through 2013.

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