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Sydney, Australia & Armonk, NY, US - 18 Apr 2008: Country Energy, manager of Australia's largest power network, today announced a global collaboration with IBM (NYSE: IBM) aimed at developing and deploying an Intelligent Network in Australia. As part of the announcement, Country Energy has become the first utility outside of the United States to join the Intelligent Utility Network Coalition, a global group of companies working with IBM to accelerate the adoption of ‘smart grid' technologies and business solutions.
An Intelligent Utility Network is a digital, open standards-based network of sensors, metering, communications, computer processors, and analytics which connects an entire utility company -- from power plant to plug. These connected systems provide a utility with near real-time data and information to better manage the grid infrastructure, enabling fewer and shorter power outages, improved customer service, and the ability to source and deliver power more efficiently, including renewable energy.
Country Energy is pursuing the Intelligent Network concept to improve reliability, support the growth of renewables like solar and wind, and make energy efficiency simpler for customers.
"Climate change and cost of living fears have made families and businesses keener than ever to control their energy and water use," said Craig Murray, Country Energy's managing director. "At the same time, Australia's power grids are beginning to show their age – we need a blueprint to renew those grids as more efficient and responsive Intelligent Networks. We need to put the digital age to work for our network customers – by 2020, Intelligent Networks need to do for essential services what the Internet has done for information," Mr Murray added.
Country Energy's vision for an Intelligent Network by 2020 has three objectives.
greater energy efficiency, through ‘smart metering' and smart in-home networks – responding to customers' desire for greater control over their energy usage and subsequent environmental impact.
a more reliable and efficient power network through remote diagnostics and self-healing, fine tuning capacity in real time, and better network planning.
enable a much wider penetration of small renewable generators – in homes, schools and businesses – by allowing renewable energy to be shared and stored locally.
According to Country Energy, realizing these objectives through the development of an Intelligent Network can combat the long term costs of moving to a low carbon future.
IBM and Country Energy are focusing on developing solutions that are specific to Australian conditions and electricity networks, and which will enable small renewable generators to interact with the network.
In the coming weeks, Country Energy and IBM will unveil a dedicated Intelligent Network research and education centre at Queanbeyan, near Canberra, to demonstrate how smart grid technologies and solutions can benefit businesses, consumers and the environment. The Centre will focus on the operational and societal benefits of a smart grid, and will be made available for visits by regulators, policy makers, environmentalists, industry and customers.
Before the end of 2008, Country Energy will announce the location for an ‘Intelligent Network community' to practically demonstrate day-to-day Intelligent Network applications for around 10,000 customers in regional New South Wales.
"The Intelligent Network will transform the way power is delivered, managed and used – in Australia and around the world," said Guido Bartels, General Manager, IBM Global Energy & Utilities Industry. "We are delighted to be teaming with Country Energy to bring this shared vision to life. With Country Energy on board as our newest member of the Intelligent Utility Network Coalition, we now have a truly global collaborative group focused on smart grid implementations." Bartels added, "This is a unique initiative for the utility industry, and is founded on a dedication to make the benefits of a smart grid a reality for millions of customers and businesses around the world."
IBM has tapped its wide range of energy industry business consultants and technology experts to develop an Intelligent Network blueprint in close collaboration with Country Energy. The two companies will also work together on the design and build of the Intelligent Network research and education centre, including vendor evaluation and solution design. IBM and Country Energy support the development of ‘open platform' solutions to deliver intelligent networks – meaning that the technology benefits will be as widely accessible as possible.
The development of an Australian Intelligent Network builds on more than two years research and development work by Country Energy, including an Australian-first trial of smart metering and dynamic pricing, and the deployment of a ‘broadband over powerline' solution.
"In the utility industry, a range of issues such as climate change and regulatory requirements are driving increased investment in energy and information technologies, including the Intelligent Grid," said H. Christine Richards, analyst with Energy Insights, an IDC Company. "Throughout 2008, we expect to see utilities -- like Country Energy -- investing in technologies to enable better grid efficiency, greater integration of renewable energy sources, and improved reaction time to events," Richards added.
Country Energy is Australia's sole representative in the Intelligent Utility Network Coalition. Other members include CenterPoint Energy, Inc.'s (NYSE: CNP) electric transmission and distribution subsidiary, CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric, LLC and Washington DC-based Pepco Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: POM). Together, these companies serve millions of customers worldwide, and each business is working to develop common standards, technology solutions and processes for intelligent networks.
Utilities and related companies based in the United States, Europe and Asia-Pacific are expected to join the Coalition over the next several months.
Jane Coates - Country Energy:
+61 2 6338 3628, +61 427 731 235
About the Intelligent Utility Network Coalition
The Intelligent Utility Network Coalition was created by IBM to help accelerate the adoption of ‘smart grid’ technologies and solutions globally. This effort includes: facilitating an industry community for collaboration, knowledge sharing, education and innovation; working with energy industry and standards groups, and the development and deployment of Intelligent Utility Network strategic solutions and technologies.
About Country Energy:
Country Energy owns and operates Australia's largest energy supply network across 95 per cent of New South Wales – a state bigger than Texas, and employs around 4,000 people serving more than 870,000 customers.
Managing around 195,000 kilometres of powerlines, 1.4 million power poles, 113,000 distribution substations and 120,000 street lights, Country Energy is a leading Australian energy services corporation owned by the New South Wales Government.
For more information about Country Energy, please visit www.countryenergy.com.au
For more information about IBM, please visit: www.ibm.com/energy
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Note: The contract for this project was signed in Q1 2008.
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