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Smart meters step into hot water power gap

Published: Thu 31 Mar 2011 02:00 PM
Smart meters step into hot water power gap
Arc Innovation’s Smart Meters have proved themselves in the weeks following Christchurch’s killer magnitude 6.3 earthquake by powering up hot water cylinders to thousands of residents in a tenth of the time it would normally take to do the same job manually.
Following the earthquake, Orion has been using generators to supply power to nearly 5,000 customers. Almost 40% of these customers have multi tariff or night/day metering with ripple receivers installed on their electric hot water cylinders.
The ripple receiver allows the energy company to turn the hot water cylinder on and off from the master electricity control via the local substation. Because these customers are no longer connected to the network, there has been no way to turn on the cylinders, leaving thousands of disgruntled people with no hot water.
Traditionally the only way to turn on the cylinders would be for Orion to visit each home and manually switch the hot water control circuit on at the meter box. For every 1,200 customers this would traditionally take around 10 days.
This is where smart metering comes in. Arc Innovation’s smart meters have a remote control ability that allows Arc to switch loads, reprogramme ripple receivers and change meter profiles remotely.
Arc identified 2,400 customers who would potentially not have had hot water and via its data-warehouse was able to determine that 800 of these had the ripple receivers in an off position.
This data was then sent to the customers’ retail electricity supplier and a request was made to switch on the hot water remotely. The hot water was switched on over a 12 hour periods so as not to overload the generators and cause peaks in demand.
Arc has also identified high power users in the eastern suburbs so that these consumers could be contacted and encouraged to decrease they power use.
In the weeks since the earthquake, Arc Innovations has been assisting Orion understand the load on generators by using Arc’s half-hourly data to provide a profile for the generator.
The information from the smart meters allows Orion to load control and set a defined profile for the period the generators are being used to avoid peaks that might shut down the electricity.
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