Western Power is introducing advanced metering infrastructure on the South West Interconnected System, unlocking future benefits including the ability to integrate more renewable energy and improving safety for customers.
Currently it has installed 23,000 meters as it works towards installing 238,000 units – in the first phase – across existing network connections and for new homes over the next few years.
Acting chief financial officer executive Jacqui Hall said the key advancement in these meters is the device’s ability to provide detailed system-wide information to give Western Power better visibility of the network’s power flow.
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“The data we see will not be what our customers are watching on Netflix or what they are warming up in microwaves but via a radio signal will help us see broad, overall power use and patterns from households and suburbs,” Ms Hall said.
“Visibility of this system-level data flow will help us detect faults and supply issues more quickly as well as help us plan for customers’ future power needs.”
Critical to this flow of information is the communications network of around 350 radio frequency (RF) transmitters that Western Power will be installing on the existing network and streetlight infrastructure. This technology has been in widespread community use since late 20th century.
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The frequency of an advanced meter sits in the 902 – 928 MHz range, which places it in the same RF range as a baby monitor or a garage door remote. For 99.9 per cent of homes the meter will sit outside of the house, in a box, with a lid on it.
The advanced meters do not use 5G technology to communicate nor does it use a mobile telecommunications network as the primary way of collecting and sending data, using the RF network instead to transfer information. Western Power has installed 4G and 3G capabilities to support the RF system for some customers, especially in remote parts of the network.
In the future, advanced meters will enable WA homes and businesses to have greater visibility and control of their energy use, including managing rooftop solar electricity systems and community batteries. This will help Western Power enable more renewable energy on the network than ever before.