AMI systems struggling under load.
The rollout of 714,000 smart meters in Victoria by power distributor SP AusNet has once again been set back after the company hit issues dealing with the increased load on its metering systems.
The Victorian government mandated the installation of smart meters in every household and small business across the state in 2006. Existing meter replacement started in 2009 and was to be completed by the end of 2013.
SP AusNet, alongside the state’s four other electricity distribution providers, is responsible for the rollout.
The company last year indicated its portion of the rollout, which was initially scheduled for completion by the end of 2013, would take six months longer than planned.
In its full year 2014 results released today the power distributor revealed it has been forced to push back its June 2014 deadline as well, as a result of issues with its advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) systems.
The AMI system facilitates automated communication between the smart meter and the utility company, in order to provide data to both the company and the customer about energy usage.
SP AusNet has installed 686,000 smart meters so far, but only 390,000 have been converted to run on the AMI systems.
The systems are struggling to deal with the increase in connected smart meters, resulting in periods of “significant instability” across the systems, SP AusNet said in its financial filings.
It told shareholders it was conducting a technical review of the IT to address the problem.
“SP AusNet will now undertake further work to determine options and risks to its program to convert the remaining smart meters and to ensure that its AMI systems will be able to deliver the mandated performance consistently at this scale,” it told investors.
The company indicated that additional investment will be required to fix the issue, the value of which is “currently under review”.
It said it would pursue regulatory avenues to recover the additional expenditure, which would be subject to the approval of the Australian Energy Regulator.
Given the ongoing review of the AMI systems, it was not able to provide a completion date or cost for the rollout.
In addition, SP AusNet is struggling against customer refusals and inaccessible sites as it works to get the remaining 27,000 smart meters installed.
It is “proactively managing” both challenges, the company said.