Our Smart Network

New technologies are transforming our electricity network, which now provides data intelligence to help improve the way we deliver and use energy. Smart meters, which today cover more than 95% of the Counties Energy network have played an active role in our transformation into a smart network. Find out more about these clever devices, including the key benefits they are enabling for the communities we serve, below.

With smart meters across more than 95% of the Counties Energy Network, the smart grid produces a large volume of data that can be analysed and utilised for the benefit of customers and the network.

Data collected by smart meters gives Counties Energy visibility to both the high and low voltage networks to prioritise, plan and communicate restoration and maintenance activities to customers. Data modelling is used to anticipate asset failure or to manage the restoration plan in the aftermath of a weather event.

Real time data analytics is also key in identifying security breaches or if smart meters have been tampered with.

A smart electricity network enables the two-way flow of electricity and data through the integration of smart meters, distributed energy resources and edge technologies. The growth in the number of control points on the network has increased our reliance on intelligent monitoring and control to ensure the electrical network is as efficient and stable as possible.

At Counties Energy, we continue to invest in a host of new technologies such as Advanced Distribution Management Systems (ADMS) and Smart Meters, to ensure we’re well positioned to meet the needs of a growing population that will increasingly embrace EV ownership and renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.

Distributed energy resources, or DERs, refer to sources of renewable energy that are directly connected on the electricity distribution network. DERs include solar PV, battery storage, EVs and wind turbines.

As technology improves and prices fall for DERs such as solar panels and battery storage, the uptake of DERs is projected to account for nearly a third of our total energy supply in New Zealand by 2050*; in 2020, this was just over 2%.

The benefits to consumers are clear – those who generate their own energy are able to reduce costs for electricity drawn from the grid. For distribution network operators such Counties Energy, integrating all DERs allows the harnessing of all renewable energy sources to reduce peak demand for heating during winter (our highest usage peak), thereby reducing the costs of building new infrastructure which is ultimately passed onto consumers.

*2020 study commissioned by Transpower, page 8 of Sapere Research Report.

Customer experience has been shaped by global innovators outside of the energy sector – Airbnb, Netflix, Uber and Apple are just four such innovators. Basic customer expectations now include immediacy, ease, and control, whether booking a flight, grocery shopping online or getting an insurance quote.

An expectation of personalised service and greater choice based on needs, has seen an increase of prosumers in the energy sector – those who generate energy besides consuming it. Globally, customers have more choices now with generating, storing, trading electricity (peer-to-peer), and managing energy use more efficiently through home energy management systems, automation, monitoring and control.

The empowerment of customers with energy usage has been made possible with data and analytics at the edge, meaning customers have access to real time data that help them make decisions as to when to use power, whether to draw this from the grid or from self-generated sources, and how much of it is used.