Data to drive innovation in Qld electricity sector

30-year PowerQ strategy envisages greater use of open data by power utilities

Open data and the market-driven uptake of advanced meters will help foster innovation in the sunshine state's electricity sector under a 30-year strategy released today by the Queensland government.

Under the strategy, titled PowerQ, the Department of Energy and Water Supply will seek to expand the use of open data in the electricity sector. "The state government will look for ways to expand this initiative over time, including by partnering with universities, education, research and development bodies to find other data-sharing opportunities," PowerQ states.

"These will include the public findings of research activities as they emerge."

Under the strategy, in 2014-16 the state government will work to establish an electricity data hub, with further work from 2016 onwards to analyse and share data to drive product development in the electricity market.

"Greater availability of data has the potential to drive innovation," the document states. "It will mean the market has better data with which to develop new products and services that can provide more choice and control over costs to consumers and help use our assets more efficiently."

The strategy also backs the roll out of more advanced electricity meters in the state, although reiterates the government's position that it would not mandate their deployment. A discussion paper released in September last year in the lead-up to PowerQ cited the Victorian smart meter experience as a cautionary tale.

The cost of the Victorian smart meter rollout blew out dramatically, with a 2011 review by that state's government finding its predecessor had underestimated the cost by $415 million. As well, the program faced criticisms about meter safety, which the review said were unfounded, and time-of-use electricity pricing.

Instead PowerQ calls for a consumer-driven approach to the rollout of advanced meters: "The Queensland Government supports a market-led approach in which consumer needs drive the roll-out of advanced meters and the resulting product innovation. The government has ruled out a mandated distributor-led roll-out of advanced meters."

"The limited functionality of most existing electricity meters in Queensland limits options for new types of tariffs, more frequent billing and other types of product innovation," PowerQ states.

The strategy envisages the government developing an advanced metering framework in the period 2014-16.

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