Tasmania smartens electricity grid

By Paul Hemsley

Tasmanian Minister for Climate Change Cassy O’Connor has talked up the state’s investment in ‘Smart Grid’ system for electricity infrastructure as a way for suppliers to deliver cheaper power to consumers and better control the electricity network during times of peak load..

The government plans to embed the Smart Grid technology, which uses digital technology similar to a 3G phone network as part of an effort to boost efficiency for consumers across the state.

A key reason for the push to reorganise power infrastructure through the Smart Grid is the need to take pressure off the electricity network during the chilly Tasmanian winter when heater use drives up peak load.

The government says that the Smart Grid can better manage peak demand and thus defer expensive sub-station upgrades and other big network costs.

The core of the government’s plan is to make power more affordable for customers by supporting renewable generation technologies, reducing the grid’s operating cost, avoiding expensive new investments and capping electricity costs.

Ms O’Connor said electricity suppliers will be able to manage a range of solar, wind and hydro generation going into the grid and attract new low emissions industries.

The move follows the government’s announcement this week that it will legislate for major reforms to the state’s electricity industry by restructuring the energy sector to keep power prices down.

“Smart Grid technology also has the benefit of providing real-time information to householders and small businesses, and other power users, so that they can manage their energy use within their budget,” Ms O’Connor said.

She said the move will enable to the state to attract “low emissions” but “energy intensive” industries such as data centres.

According to Ms O’Connor, many other countries in Europe and Asia are promoting a modernised electricity network to address energy independence and global warming issues.

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