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WEL Networks to install 35k smart boxes in Waikato

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

By the end of 2013 almost 40,000 Waikato households will have a ‘smart box’ installed to automatically notify WEL Networks if there is an outage, and ultimately give households more control over the energy they use, the company said today.

WEL Networks CEO Dr Julian Elder said the company will start installing the first of 35,000 smart boxes in Hamilton city in late August. Properties in Huntly, Ngaruawahia, Te Kauwhata and Maramarua will receive smart boxes later this year.

These will add to the 3,000 smart boxes WEL Networks began installing in the seaside community of Raglan last year and to be completed in the next few months.

"This is a significant investment in the quality and reliability of the Waikato electricity network, and a key part of our ongoing efforts to partner with our customers to give households greater self-sufficiency and control over the energy they use in the future," Dr Elder said.

The in-home smart-boxes are part of a wider network management system known as WelConnect that relays system information in real time back to the WEL Networks operations centre via an RF mesh wireless communications system installed throughout the Waikato last year.

"First of all, the system automatically alerts us to outages. This means we no longer have to wait for a customer to phone us when power is out. We are now alerted through our computer system, which allows us to restore lost power more quickly than ever before," Dr Elder said.

"The WELconnect system also helps us monitor what’s happening throughout our network to help us deliver the most cost effective supply of electricity. Over the past few months, the new system has helped us identify some power quality and voltage adjustments we could make to ensure electricity is being used more efficiently in the western part of our network following the first installations in Raglan," he explains.

The use of smart boxes will not change consumers’ current pricing plans or meter reading arrangements.

Dr Elder says the company is exploring future enhancements to the WELconnect system that will allow consumers to control power consumption and ideally save money.

"As we take full advantage of the WELconnect technology over the coming years, consumers will have a better understanding of what power they are using because they will be able to see it as it happens," he says.

All electricity retailers operating in the WEL Networks distribution area are aware that smart boxes are being installed on properties. The smart boxes will either replace consumers’ current electricity meters or be installed next to current meters.

WEL will make contact with property owners prior to installing the smart boxes to provide further information about the installation process.

Additional information can be found at www.welconnect.co.nz.

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