Country Energy adds NBN to smart grid thinking

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Country Energy adds NBN to smart grid thinking

Backhaul investments could be valuable.

Country Energy has foreshadowed a significant body of work ahead between the electricity sector and the Government to work through overlaps between smart grids and the national broadband network.

The utility's general manager for strategy, Ben Hamilton, told an Australian Information Industry Association lunch today that connectivity alternatives for Country Energy's intelligent network project had been assessed.

He said it was likely the network backbone would be a mix of technologies.

"Given the geographic spread of locations, in all likelihood there'll be a mix of our own assets for network control as well as existing carrier assets," Hamilton said.

"The NBN also becomes a consideration now. It's likely the NBN will give us some backhaul capability between some towns [we service]."

Country Energy's project has been running for about 18 months. At its heart is a residential smart grid trial and a "demonstration house" in Queanbeyan, a suburb outside Canberra.

"It's been really useful in being able to demonstrate what an intelligent network actually is," Hamilton said.

He said the role of smart grids could be critical in getting consumers to alter their electricity consumption habits.

"Electricity is one of the few commdities you use and then pay for 90 days in arrears," Hamilton said.

"We know that by giving customers access to information on how much their usage costs and when they're using electricity, it can help change their behaviour."

Hamilton sidestepped a question about whether Country Energy would consider vending in some of its fibre assets to the NBN.

"That's a decision for the NSW Government," he said.

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