Barton, Australia --- (METERING.COM) --- September 15, 2009 - The Australian federal government should appoint a joint working group, comprising energy industry and broadband network representatives, to ensure that the proposed investments in energy and communications infrastructure in a smart grid achieve the greatest possible synergies and therefore least cost outcomes.

Further, the government should consider making a dedicated portion of telecommunications spectrum available nationwide for the purposes of implementing smart grids, with the regulation of this spectrum aligned to the requirements of smart grid infrastructure.

These are among the policy positions adopted by Australia’s Energy Networks Association (ENA) in a new position paper on smart grids in Australia.

Noting that the electricity industry is poised to make the transformation from a centralized, producer controlled network to one that is less centralized and more consumer interactive, the ENA says the move to a smarter network promises to change the industry’s business model and its relationship with all stakeholders, involving and affecting utilities, regulators, energy service provides, technology and automation vendors and all consumers of electric power.

In its efforts to ensure this transformation and the continued delivery of reliable, affordable and clean energy, the ENA has developed a smart grid vision for the sector as: “An energy network that promotes diversity, efficiency and flexibility in the transportation of energy which will underpin the secure, affordable, and environmentally friendly supply and use of energy in a carbon constrained world.”

The ENA says it is pursuing a number of policy positions to ensure the efficient and timely delivery of the smart grid, and it recommends that standards should be developed by appropriate joint working groups, drawing on international experience, in the areas of end-to-end cybersecurity for smart grids, interconnection and interoperability standards for energy source and storage devices, and application level data communication for enabling sensor to network consistent communications, home energy systems, home area networks, metering, exchange of meter data, and network to home energy management systems interactions

The industry also should work with the relevant bodies to develop inexpensive energy storage – particularly relevant with the emergence of plug-in electric vehicles – and it should continue to work with governments and other partners on issues including appropriate commercial returns for network investment recognizing upstream benefits, such as carbon emissions reductions and deferment of investment in generation plant, pricing structures that reflect energy costs and network constraints, and appropriate allowances for research and development investment in smart network technology.

The Association also says that as the representative of gas distribution and electricity transmission and distribution businesses in Australia it is best placed to represent the industry on the topic of smart grids and should be recognized as the appropriate industry body to lead and coordinate the development of Australia’s smart grid.

In a separate statement the ENA committed itself to involvement in all planning and implementation stages relating to the introduction of plug-in electric vehicles into Australia, and to working closely with all key stakeholders in developing the arrangements governing access to electricity networks infrastructure by plug-in electric vehicles.