Future Grid

Smart Grid Index

This section provides an overview and supporting resources for the seven dimensions of the Smart Grid Index.

Ausgrid is Australia’s largest distributor of electricity on Australia’s east coast, providing power to 4 million people.

Our network provides power for 1.6 million homes - delivering energy to household customers is a crucial part of what we do.

Our organisation - Map

Ausgrid Facts

Ausgrid has a critical role to play in leading and delivering the transition to a low-cost, reliable and decarbonised economy. Part of this means listening to our customers and delivering a future grid that meets their needs.

Our customers are telling us they want us to:

  • be resilient as we continue to be challenged by weather events;
  • prepare for the future by offering renewable energy solutions;
  • give them choice in their energy supply by supporting technology such as solar and wind, and making battery storage more affordable; and
  • ensure we keep our focus on being affordable and reliable.

The energy industry is changing. Households are increasingly generating and storing their own energy through solar panel and batteries. In some cases, they are selling their excess electricity back to the grid. Electricity distribution networks, including Ausgrid, are also trialling community batteries and building electric vehicle charging networks for use by local communities.

This means the role of distributors is also changing. Distributors now manage a two-way flow of electricity between the grid and customers.
As the largest distribution network in NSW, Ausgrid is already planning for this transformation in a way that is inclusive, leaving no-one behind and improving outcomes for the most vulnerable in our communities. 

Smart Grid Highlights


We are enabling solar

Over 200k solar PV connections on our network


Launch of a community battery trial and EV charging network

This innovation is an exciting milestone for Ausgrid's future.


Testing new technologies

investment over five years through our Network Innovation Program testing new technologies and new ways of doing things in our network.

Goals for a Smart Grid Future

  1. $42M investment over 5 years through our Network Innovation Program which will test new technologies and ways of doing things in our network.

  2. Implementation of an Advanced Distribution Management System (ADMS) that will replace our current system to optimise the way we manage our network, simplify our control systems and enable us to operate in the future ‘energy sharing’ economy.

  3. Supporting our customers in the transition to a low-carbon economy by making it easy for customers to connect DER (Distributed Energy Resources) to the network and providing options for them to supply energy into the grid.

  4. Increasing network resilience and our ability to recover and learn from disruptive events, particularly climate change impacts and the changing use of technologies.

  5. Partnering with Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Distribution, the Enel Group and Oxford University in a Global Smart Grid initiative to share key learnings from innovation projects, facilitate discussions around challenges and support a collaborative transition to a decarbonised future.

In this section

Monitoring and Control
DER Integration
Supply Reliability
Green Energy
Data and Analytics
Security

Monitoring and Control

In 2022 we are launching the first phase of our Advanced Distribution Management System (ADMS) that will replace our current system to enhance the way we manage our network, simplify our control systems, and enable us to operate in the future ‘energy sharing’ economy. This multi-year and multi-phase initiative allows us to provide a safe, reliable, resilient and sustainable network.

Ausgrid’s current DNMS is a bespoke hybrid system dating from the 1990s integration with FLISR and OMS. It incorporates network Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) and visualisation components.  

As part of our innovation program we are testing several additional monitoring and control technologies which include:

  • Advanced Voltage Regulators
  • Network Monitoring Devices and Systems (Network Insights)
  • Fringe of Grid Optimisation
  • High-Voltage Microgrids
  • Portable All-in-One Off-Grid Supply Units
  • Self-Healing Networks
  • Dynamic Load Control
  • Asset Condition Monitoring
  • Line Fault Indicators

Distributed Energy Resources (DER) Integration

The grid of the future needs to deliver reliability and efficiency in the operation of systems that have distributed energy resources, also known as DERs – small-scale power generation sources located close to where electricity is used, typically owned by customers. We have increased our focus on building our capabilities to support our customers as they invest in new energy technologies and we transition to a distributed and renewable system. It is important that we continue to maintain efficient, safe and reliable services throughout the transition while finding new ways of optimising value for our customers.

We believe innovation is key to decarbonise the energy supply and improve reliability and affordability, while giving customers more choices.

DER Highlights

  • Network Innovation Program investment of $42 million over 5 years to test the suitability of new technologies
  • Creation of a Network Innovation Advisory Committee (NIAC) in 2019 to oversees the implementation of this program
  • We have further expanded the energy efficiency of our fleet with the addition of 30 Toyota hybrid passenger vehicles

 

Our Network Innovation Program

Our Network Innovation Program provides us with opportunities to incorporate growing numbers of DERs and electric vehicles in our network. This program (and the investment) will allow us to test the suitability of new technologies and new ways of doing things to evolve our network to meet changing customer expectations.

Our Power2U program

Ausgrid’s Power2U Program is an initiative that encourages customers to take up renewable energy and efficiency measures such as installing solar systems, lighting upgrades, and sharing their excess stored energy with the grid. 

Electric vehicles (EVs)

The electric vehicle market in Australia is currently in its infancy. In 2019, EVs represented only 2,200 vehicles of the 6.6 million registered vehicles in our network area. To inform our planning for EVs, we have conducted research with 430 New South Wales EV owners to investigate opinions and perceived behaviours around charging and EV driving patterns.

EV Strategy

To support the uptake of EVs, we recently partnered with JOLT to use our kiosk substations as EV charging points. With our infrastructure ever-present in our communities, this is an excellent partnership to use our assets as vehicle charge points across our network.

EV charging infrastructure

To manage potential future EV charging connections to our network, we are working with various bodies representing the electric vehicle sector and the government to identify the lowest impact connection locations, understand future demand and publish maps that show locations suitable for charging points.

Home batteries and virtual power plants

Our virtual power plant trial project, part of our Power2U program, is an innovation that encourages our customers to see value in remaining connected to our network while also providing a mechanism that allows us to defer infrastructure costs to meet peak demand. During peak demand on our network, Ausgrid can use the energy in our customers’ home batteries via the virtual power plant to ensure the network continues to deliver for all customers. Customers who have agreed to be a part of this trial are paid for the exported energy and therefore receive a greater benefit from their solar and battery investment.

Community batteries

As part of the Network Innovation Program, Ausgrid is planning the trial of three community batteries to give our customers better access to affordable clean energy choices. These community batteries will allow our customers to export and virtually store their own solar for later and will provide an affordable option to further support sustainable energy. They will also be used for demand management to supplement the network in peak times and we expect these will be a common element of our network in the future. Find out more about the community batteries.

Supply Reliability

Ausgrid has worked hard to achieve an improved network performance result for FY21 on the back of a challenging FY20. Having successfully recovered from the significant impact of storms and bushfires, we continued with efficiency and process improvement initiatives to increase the network’s resilience and improve performance. These have contributed to the FY21 result being ahead of the trailing five-year average for our System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI) and System Average Interruption Frequency Index (SAIFI).

 

Reliability

FY2021

FY2020

FY2019

FY2018

FY2017

SAIDI - System Average Interruption Duration Index 

Average time that a customer is without electricity in minutes

70.7 92.2 74.7 69.0

79.0

SAIFI - System Average Interruption Frequency Index

Average number of service interruptions to each customer

0.56

0.68

0.66

0.68

0.71

Green Energy

As a distributor, Ausgrid does not generate electricity. However, climate change is an important issue for Ausgrid. We have developed guiding principles for our business to make sure that it is factored into our decision making.

Our strategy has been to provide value to our customers to remain connected to our network, and to encourage choice for our customers in accessing cleaner energy solutions. We believe this is a key strategic shift from being a traditional distribution network service provider to being a dynamic mover of electricity and the ‘internet of electricity’ by allowing our customers to share energy back into the network and for all to benefit from these two-way energy flows. Ausgrid has committed as part of a power purchase agreement to 100% green electricity for its operations from Jan 2024.

Green Energy Highlights

  • Net Zero | Achieved 13% emissions reductions in FY21, from our FY17 baseline. This exceeds our FY24 emissions reduction target of 8% (including line losses) and we are on track to reach our FY24 total emissions reduction target of 44% (excluding line losses). In total, we have reduced our emissions by over 16,000 tonnes compared to FY20.
  • Community batteries | Commenced a new Community Battery trial to provide a more affordable energy storage solution and cost-effectively increase the use of renewable energy.
  • Virtual Power Plant | Delivered the Virtual Power Plant program, allowing customers to share their excess stored energy with the grid for the benefit of all customers.
  • Electric Vehicle Charging | Launched free fast electric vehicle charging across Sydney by transforming existing streetside kiosks in partnership with JOLT. Watch an overview of the initiative here.
  • LEDS | Installed 36,712 LEDs across the network in FY21, bringing the total to over 130,000 completed since the start of the program. This represents more than 50% of streetlights replaced on the network and has delivered a carbon emissions reduction of 8,029 tonnes.
  • Energy efficiency | Delivered the Power2U program which encourages customers to take up renewable energy.

Solar Panel and Battery Storage

Households are increasingly generating and storing their own energy through solar panels and batteries. In some cases, they are selling their excess electricity back to the grid.
Over 200k solar PV connections on our network. Electricity distribution networks, including Ausgrid, are also trialling community batteries for use by local communities.

This means the role of distributors is also changing. Distributors now manage a two-way flow of electricity between the grid and customers. See also DER integration below.

Renewables Mix

The renewable energy generation for our use is shown in the table below:

Renewable Generation Table 2021

For further information refer to Ausgrid Emission Targets FY20.

Climate Change

Ausgrid is the first electricity distribution network service provider in Australia to set CO2-e targets. We are doing our part to address climate change by reducing our own emissions and we have produced our 2020 Carbon Emissions Performance Report that provides information on our targets, our emissions and activities that have influenced change.

We accept unequivocally that human induced climate change presents a growing threat to the planet, and to society, the economy and our business. Ausgrid has two key physical climate change risk areas:

  • Bush fires affecting our network and the risk of our network starting bush fires especially in periods of drought
  • Extreme weather events such as East Coast Lows, severe thunderstorms, and heatwaves

During the year we conduct ongoing activities to prepare for and mitigate these physical climate change risks and to make our network more resilient.

Climate Change Guiding Principles

1. Promote decarbonisation of the economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our operations.
2. Integrate climate change variables in internal decision-making processes as well as in the analysis and management of the long-term risks and opportunities for the organisation.
3. Include in our decision making ways to harden and increase the resilience of our network and operations to the physical impacts of climate change.
4. Consider climate change risks and impacts on our operations and assets and seek opportunities for the organisation to provide innovative clean energy, infrastructure or operational solutions on our network or to our customers.

Carbon Emissions

Ausgrid has two categories of carbon emissions reduction targets. Note: Our targets are baselined to FY17 to coincide with our change in ownership.

  • 8% reduction of all emissions (scope 1, 2 and 3) by FY24 and 17% by 2030.

  • 44% reduction of all emissions (scope 1, 2 and 3) excluding line losses, by FY24.

Carbon Emissions Highlights

  • 11.8% against our target of 8% for all emissions by FY24. We also achieved a reduction of 13.3% against our target of 44% for all emissions excluding line losses, by FY24.
  • Scope 1 emissions (petrols, oils, diesel, LPG, natural gas and SF6): Ausgrid reduced these emissions by 4.8% since FY17 mainly from fleet efficiencies.
  • Scope 2 emissions (electricity use and distribution/transmission line losses): These reduced by 12.2% since FY17

Read more in the 2020 Carbon Emissions Performance Report.

EV Facilitation

In a world first initiative, Ausgrid has partnered with JOLT to step change accessibility of electric vehicle charging. This project will provide customers access to free, fast charging across Sydney by transforming existing Ausgrid streetside kiosks into state-of-the-art charging stations for electric vehicles.

This shared asset partnership supports the electrification of transport by giving our customers and community access to renewable energy choices, making it easier for people to charge their vehicles and using 100 per cent green energy.

Read more about our partnership with JOLT.

Data Analytics

Mapping our network needs

In collaboration with other electricity networks in Australia and the Institute of Sustainable Futures at University of Technology Sydney, Ausgrid has helped to develop a free online tool that maps Australia’s electricity network.

The network opportunity maps help to inform the market about locations where investment in demand management and renewable energy may reduce the need to invest in poles and wires assets, supporting the uptake of local sustainable energy options and reduce costs for all consumers. Find out more.

Technology and Data Innovation

Our Network Digitisation Program delivered improvements in our digital imaging and mapping capability and cost efficiencies. We expanded our use of LiDAR (light detection and ranging) to create a digitised picture of the Ausgrid network. This is allowing us to change the way we execute routine tasks such as maintenance inspections and surveying, providing further opportunity for efficiencies.

Ausgrid is using its LiDAR data to build a 3D ‘digital twin’ of the entire Ausgrid network to improve grid reliability and resiliency, and optimise the operational efficiency of its network. The digital twin will combine 3D spatial visualisation with full engineering-grade analytics functionality, which will enable Ausgrid staff to design and operate critical network infrastructure on the poles and wires remotely, rather than on site, resulting in improved efficiency for customers. The extra data extracted from the modelling will allow analytics on assets in bulk across the entire network. Find out more about our partnership with Neara to optimise network management and performance.

Smart Meter Data

We are using smart meter data to assess the solar hosting capacity of our network, monitor and resolve power quality issues, and identify potential defects and hazards on the network.

Drone technology

We introduced the use of drones alongside helicopters to conduct bushfire safety checks on the network in remote or noise sensitive locations.

In a world first, Ausgrid has used a drone to untangle 800 metres of twisted powerlines in a remote, inaccessible part of the electricity network in Sydney’s North.
The twisted wires were caused by strong winds and discovered during a routine tower inspection in a large valley between Davidson and St Ives. Find out more about drones and powerlines.

Research data sets

In response to customer feedback we provide regular consumption and past outage data, as well sets of electricity research data. Find out more.

Customer Empowerment and Satisfaction

Under the Australian Energy Market Commission’s Power of Choice review of the National Energy Market, Ausgrid’s metering business is ring fenced under the Ausgrid Operating Partnership and exists as PlusES. As a result, smart meters and associated services are now managed by retailers and metering partners. Ausgrid maintains accumulation meters only.

Customer Experience Highlights

  • In response to the impacts of COVID-19 we implemented a $3.9 million bill relief package for residential customers, and $3.7 million for our worst affected large business customers, codesigned with our Energy Networks Australia (ENA) peers
  • We introduced near real-time measurement of customer ease across almost our entire suite of services to enable a direct link between business improvement and customer experience.
  • We improved communication with customers, reducing uncertainty around outages and informing the customer that we are aware of the outage while providing restoration time updates.
  • The power outage map and reporting form upgrade launched in tandem with our customer power outage SMS initiative, has helped to improve customer communication of power outages. Introduced the 'Closing the Loop' initiative allowing customers to request follow-up from the contact centre for unresolved issues and gave Partners the choice to receive a call-back from an Ausgrid executive, allowing the executive team to directly hear and solve the real challenges faced by our partners at the centre of service delivery for our customers.

Introduction of demand tariffs

To give customers more control over their bills, on 1 July 2019 we introduced demand tariffs for residential and small business customers with smart meters. These tariffs allow customers to lower their bills simply by spreading out when they use their appliances during peak hours.

As at 30 June 2020, there were about 31,000 residential and small business customers on demand tariffs. Further, about 411,000 residential small business customers remain on cost reflective time-of-use network tariffs.

Customer Advocates

We have four customer committees:

We continue to collaborate with our customer advocates on customer insights, service improvements and innovation programs, in line with the customer-focused Energy Charter principles.
Read more about our customer engagement here.

Further information on Customer Service Highlights and Engagement refer to the Ausgrid 2021 Energy Charter Report.

Customer Satisfaction

Our understanding of our customers continues to evolve by investing more time and resources into learning about customer preferences and actively improving the services we provide to them.

Based on customer feedback, we have developed new reporting and tracking frameworks called the Voice of the Community program. We have elevated the Net Performance Score (NPS) from being a transactional survey to a reputational survey (RepTrak) and we’ve supplemented it with several other transactional measures such as first touch resolution, case resolution percentage and customer satisfaction score.

These changes will allow us to capture direct, timely and relevant feedback from our customers to enhance data-driven decision making so we can focus our efforts where our customers tell us they are most needed.

  • Our Customer and Partner Research included over 20 group discussion sessions along with in-depth interviews, which provided us with 50 hours’ worth of feedback. This included research with 430 NSW Electric Vehicle (EV) owners to investigate opinions and perceived behaviours around charging and electric vehicle driving patterns.
  • In July 2020 we commenced a Community Battery research program among solar and battery and non-solar / battery customers.

Security

Cyber and physical security requirements and considerations continue to be key focuses for Ausgrid. With our electricity grid recognised as critical infrastructure, we know that keeping it safe from intrusion is crucial for providing a safe and reliable electricity supply.

Find out more in the 2020 Ausgrid Sustainability Report. 

IT Cyber Security

Our ongoing priority during 2020/21 was to make sure that our workforce can remain connected at any location and meet our cyber and physical security requirements to keep our employees safe. We were able to swiftly put in processes to remotely update and secure our IT assets and engage with our employees on best cyber security practices. Very early on in the pandemic, we communicated regularly with our employees on password security, provided Working from Home Toolkits so they could check if their home networks were vulnerable, and provided information on how to work cyber safe from home.

Our established Technology Review Committee helps improve transparency of investments in information technology and cyber.

Cyber Security Highlights

  • 69 million SPAM emails were blocked
  • 843 million scans of our network were prevented
  • 3 million websites were blocked due to suspicious or malicious software
  • Prioritisation of update of IT assets and cyber security development of the Work From Home Toolkit during COVID-19

OT Security

Ausgrid has a OT / Control System Security Strategy which has been further refined by the introduction of the Critical Infrastructure Licence Conditions and its subsequent revision. This strategy has informed the Operational Technology Security Strategy and the cyber security program. This strategy references current good and best practice in SCADA systems and, where applicable, IT Cyber Security practices.

OT Security Primary Reference Standard for control systems and backup coordination, storage and orchestration tools is IEC-62443 – Security for Industrial Automation and Control Systems.