Domestic solar and battery storage systems potentially affect the quality of electricity on the distribution network. Of particular concern is their effect on network voltage.
Changes introduced by the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) require electricity retailers to offer smart meters to all their customers. Unfortunately for Australian consumers the AEMC list of services focusses on “customer billing”, including remote reading of half hourly electricity use and the ability to remotely disconnect customers.
The only non-billing service included in the AEMC list of services is a single voltage measurement. This service is intended to support customer calls reporting outages, when it can be used to check if the customer has been remotely disconnected or if there is a network outage.
The single voltage measurement does not readily support better management of the impact of solar systems and battery storage on the distribution network. To address this lack of information local electricity distribution businesses may be forced to install separate equipment capable of making continuous voltage measurements. The AEMC market rules then allow the cost of these systems to be recovered from consumers.
This additional cost could have been avoided if the AEMC had added the required functionality to the list of smart meter services.
By omitting the service the AEMC Smart Meter rollout is a missed opportunity potentially adversely affecting the quality, reliability and cost of electricity for all Australian consumers.
Copyright of this article remains with Dr Martin Gill. All references to this article should include the author’s name and website www.drmartingill.com.au.
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