Future Grid

Merriwa microgrid innovation trial

Countryside and painted farm silo in Merriwa NSW

Ausgrid is trialling an innovative technology in Merriwa to deliver a more responsive, resilient and reliable power supply.

Microgrids can help support communities during planned and unplanned outages.

We are engaging with our customers and stakeholders on what a microgrid is and what power it can provide to support community, business and residential activity.

By partnering with the Upper Hunter Shire Council and the Merriwa community to co-design elements of the microgrid trial project, we can best serve the community needs.

What is a microgrid?

What is a microgrid - Scenario 1 


What is a microgrid Scenario 2

Community Hub

As a part of the microgrid trial, Ausgrid is proposing to include a ‘community hub’ that can be used to support community services and be a central meeting point during an outage.

The community hub can be located at a convenient venue and support services like wi-fi, food and drink facilities, washing machines, refrigeration, charging points etc. and will operate under emergency conditions (in consultation with appropriate emergency service authorities).

Ausgrid will continue to partner with the Upper Hunter Shire Council and the Merriwa community to identify services that can be included in the community hub.

Community consultation

As we are developing plans for the microgrid trial we want to involve the community in our planning. We aim to provide the community with balanced and objective information to outline the need for this project, our delivery approach and how it may affect people.

The feedback we receive from our customers and stakeholders will shape the Merriwa microgrid and community hub design.

Ausgrid held two community workshops in Merriwa in November 2022. The participants at the workshop shared their thoughts on the proposal and provided feedback. 

Download the Program Introduction and Engagement Report

The feedback will be taken into consideration as we complete the microgrid design.

Energy Audits

As a part of the Merriwa microgrid innovation trial project investigation, Ausgrid conducted an independent energy assessment for the properties in the proposed trial area to help us understand your energy consumption patterns.

Project timeline

 Community focus groups at Merriwa
 December – January 23
  Energy Audits conducted
 Contract awarded for design and delivery
 Community workshop outcomes report released
 May – September
 Microgrid design progress
 Microgrid design finalised
 October – December
 January – March
 Commissioning and completion

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a microgrid?

A microgrid is a small network of power generation, storage and control technologies that are designed to supply a small group of consumers with electricity while operating independently of the central grid.

A microgrid can operate autonomously, supplied by energy sources like solar generation, battery storage and diesel power, when power supply from the main grid is disrupted by extreme weather events or is otherwise unavailable.

A microgrid is designed to increase the reliability and resilience of the network and the community.

What is being planned for this project?

The first step in this trial is to develop a low voltage connected microgrid at Merriwa, capable of supplying power to identified premises along Bettington Street, in the centre of town during major outages.

The proposed microgrid will include small scale power generation (solar panels and a back-up diesel generator), storage (batteries) and control technologies. The microgrid will be able to operate during planned and unplanned power interruptions – switching on to maintain supply automatically to homes and businesses in the trial area.

It is also proposed to power a community hub to improve Merriwa’s resilience to disruptive events by providing services such as refrigeration, laundry and showering facilities and a central meeting point. Community input will help determine the location and services included in the community hub.

What is a community hub?

A community hub is a place for the community to come together during an emergency and access essential services – for example charging, satellite wi-fi internet, washing, refrigeration and cooking. 

A community hub is generally located at a large and easily accessible venue like a community hall. 

As part of the Merriwa microgrid trial, we are planning to work with the community to determine if they see value in a community hub, what services it should deliver and work with local partners to design and run the community hub to meet community needs.

Has Ausgrid chosen the location and the technology for the microgrid?

Ausgrid has considered a range of possible locations, with a focus on areas where we need to improve system reliability and resilience for customers. Merriwa has been selected as the preferred location because:

  • the existing network configuration means there is a risk of extended outages to the area
  • the conditions at our Merriwa Depot are right for this project, with the right amount of space, sunlight and support for an effective trial
  • our climate assessments show that the Merriwa and Upper Hunter areas will be some of the most impacted by climate change across Ausgrid's system in coming decades.

The technology is now at a stage that we are confident it will work reliably and cost effectively.

We’re proposing to install the microgrid at Ausgrid’s Merriwa Depot, which will allow for the majority of the main street to be supplied by the microgrid, providing benefits to the town and surrounding rural properties through the proposed community hub.

What are the benefits of this project?

Ausgrid climate impact research for the Upper Hunter shows by 2050 we can expect to see an increase in all types of climate risks such as heat, storms and bushfire.

A microgrid allows Ausgrid to provide a more resilient electricity supply to customers. The microgrid maintains electricity to connected customers, and customers outside the microgrid area can access services provided within the proposed community hub, which will be connected to the microgrid.

For more information

If you would like to contact us, please email the Ausgrid Innovation Program on innovation@ausgrid.com.au.

Latest media release: Ausgrid proposes Merriwa microgrid trial