Peter Garrett,
Australia's Minister
for Environment
 
Canberra, Australia --- (METERING.COM) --- November 13, 2009 - Bidding has opened for Australia’s $100 million (US$87 million) Smart Grid, Smart City initiative, which will deploy the country’s first commercial scale smart grid.

Announcing the opening of the tender process last week, environment minister Peter Garrett said this commercial scale trial was an exciting new chapter for Australia’s energy efficiency network (see Australia’s government gives go ahead to commercial scale smart grid deployment).

“Smart grids provide greater ability to incorporate and distribute renewable energy, save money through cutting-edge ‘self-healing’ technologies, and reduced demand, and empower consumers to manage their energy use,” said Garrett. “Early estimates show that if smart grid applications are adopted around Australia they could deliver significant economic and environmental benefits to the Australian economy, including an estimated minimum reduction of 3.5 mega-tonnes of carbon emissions per annum.”

The successful consortium will be led by an electricity distributor, and the membership is likely to include a mix of electricity retailers, product and service suppliers, governments, academic bodies, consumer interest groups and other non-government organisations.

The project location should provide a reasonable representation of the wider grid, customers, geography and climate of the remainder of the country, with a focus within a single distributor’s network and providing a defined geographic focal point. It also should include urban, suburban, and rural areas as well as an appropriate diversity of network and customer characteristics to ensure that applications are deployed at a scale that will provide meaningful commercial data.

As part of the project a regulatory working group will be established to identify the major regulatory barriers that would affect industry adoption of smart grid technologies across Australia and make recommendations concerning current regulation to government. In addition a standards working group will be created to help identify standards that may reduce the potential risks of installing these new technologies.

Garrett said he expected to receive quality bids for the funding, with strong interest being shown from the energy and communications sectors.

“We have consulted with industry and community extensively since the government announced the initiative in July, and it will be exciting to see what their proposals are for Australia’s first smart grid.”

Consortia have until late January 2010 to submit their bids. The successful consortium should be announced in late-April 2010. Pending contract negotiations, delivery of the project will commence in July 2010 and continue until June 2013.