Helping Enexis Power Ahead with Smart Meter Rollout
Enexis is an independent grid operator and one of the largest energy distributors in the Netherlands. Working with energy suppliers, it manages 2 million gas and 2.6 million electricity connections to customers in seven provinces, representing approximately one third of the Dutch market. In 2008, a European Union (EU) directive stipulated that 80% of energy customers must be able to monitor energy consumption by 2020. The Dutch government responded by making a legal requirement for energy operators to install smart metering technology in homes. To meet these targets, Enexis will need to deploy approximately 5 million smart meters, each transmitting energy consumption data once a day, every day. Since 2011, Enexis no longer installs conventional meters, every new meter installed in the grid is a smart meter. This means that during the first few years of rollout, smart meters are installed across the grid. To achieve this, Enexis had several options. Routing data via Power Line Connections (PLC) was impractical because, to work effectively, entire districts would have to install smart meters simultaneously. With the initial rollout limited to replacing faulty meters and new installations, this was not viable. Transmitting data via WiFi, another option, would mean home owners needing a guaranteed connection. “Because we install smart meters that are scattered across our distribution network, the most effective solution was GPRS over M2M SIMs,” says Lonneke Driessen-Mutters, Smart Metering Operations Manager at Enexis. M2M SIMs installed in smart meters would be able to transmit data via Vodafone’s comprehensive mobile coverage in the Netherlands, with no homeowner involvement and minimum installation effort. Enexis invited a number of mobile communications suppliers in the Netherlands to tender. After careful consideration, Vodafone was selected based on cost and service commitments. In addition, Enexis already had a relationship with Vodafone, as they provide approximately 3,000 of the company’s voice and data connections, so they knew the service they could expect. “We’re owned by local government, so our money is public money. The solution had to be cost effective as we have to be careful what we spend,” says Driessen-Mutters.