A product that uses bi-directional power line communications technology for the “last mile” network to communicate with residential load control devices that enable electricity suppliers to implement intelligent load management strategies has been launched by South Africabased Ergon NetWorx.

Known as Net-PODS, the product is a distributed network system that optimises load control in a residential environment and focuses on hot water systems and up to three additional loads such as under-floor heating and air conditioning. Using intelligent algorithms, the system maximises the amount of load that can be removed from the residential peak.

For example full-scale implementation of Net-PODS technology in South Africa would reduce the residential electricity peak by an estimated 1.25 GW, equivalent to the output from a mediumsized power station. Further possibilities include the ability of electricity suppliers to perform automated meter reading on the same network. This means that with a single PLC-based network in place, suppliers will be in a position to offer residential consumers a choice of billing or prepaid electricity supply using existing payment channels and a time-ofuse tariff structure.