For immediate release
22 February 2017
World first data-sharing initiative to power energy innovation
A groundbreaking collaboration between Simply Group, Counties Power, Callaghan Innovation, and Creative HQ will unlock
half-hour electricity data for the first time, to promote research and innovation.
Backing the Lightning Lab Electric Innovation Challenge and Accelerator programme, Counties Power has teamed up with
Simply Group to put anonymised user data in the hands of New Zealand’s innovators with the goal of creating
game-changing outcomes for the energy sector.
Supported with funding from Callaghan Innovation, participants in the Lightning Lab programme will gain access to
aggregated data sets on power usage, consumer demand and network assets, via building on the success of Simply Group’s
proven Axos Systems meter data management technology.
Lightning Lab Electric is one of the world’s first electricity sector-specific programmes providing teams with
mentoring, start-up methodologies, and business skills to launch commercial ideas with speed, with the ability to tap
into national and international markets.
“We have a $600 million national investment in advanced meters in New Zealand.
There are huge opportunities for the captured data to be utilised to support innovation and create long term benefit for
consumers by reducing network capital spend and operating costs,” says Stephen Peterson, Simply Group Managing Director.
“One of the groundbreaking features of this project is making it easy for retailers to anonymise the data they collect,
addressing retailer and consumer privacy and competitive concerns, while maintaining data that’s relevant to network
management and pricing. Counties Power’s strategic forward thinking means it now has access to data which it is
beginning to use. Our collaboration creates an opportunity to further develop and commercialise the benefits from its
network analytics,” Peterson adds.
While New Zealand leads the world in electricity regulation and market operation, with the highest country penetration
of advanced meters systematically capturing critical information, current industry arrangements do not support obtaining
comprehensive meter data to distribution networks, which can be beneficially utilised.
“We are keen to engage with industry stakeholders across the sector to develop solutions and business intelligence tools
that can be used by network owners, retailers and their consumers. We’re also after useful analytics to help us optimise
network investment and stay true to our focus on consumer value for money,” says Sheridan Broadbent, Counties Power
“It’s exciting to collaborate with a pioneering solutions provider and gain access to transformational innovation
through our relationship with Callaghan Innovation and Creative HQ. We’re also looking at opportunities with Simply
Group to develop innovative products, services and technologies with the aim of discovering the possibilities for the
future, while developing useful analytics to support best practice investment and maintenance that can be used right
now,” she adds.
"The fundamental success factor for creating a real sustainable step-change in energy must be founded on an open and
collaborative attitude. With Callaghan Innovation's support, Counties Power and Simply Group are taking a brave and
inspired approach to opening up the data in a responsible and useful way to all innovators through Lightning Lab
Electric. It's hugely encouraging when potential entrepreneurs can look to established utilities as enablers and
collaborators for new ways of doing things with energy," says Nick Churchouse, Head of Customer Engagement at Creative
This public-private partnership will create unique breakthrough opportunities by combining technologies, expertise and
consumer databases, planting New Zealand’s electricity secto even further ahead of the rest of world.
“The ability for energy start-ups to use data to develop other consumer solutions is a sign of where the energy sector
is heading. Energy technology is increasingly going to involve data in creating solutions for network and infrastructure
investment, and consumer demand for choice,” says Chris Thomson, Callaghan Innovation Energy Sector Manager.