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Enexis case study

Vodafone Global M2M Vodafone helps Enexis power ahead with smart meter rollout

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Enexis case study

Vodafone helps Enexis power ahead with smart meter rollout


Enexis is one of the largest energy network operators in the Netherlands, managing around 4.5 million customer connections. As part of a European Union directive that 80% of homes must be able to monitor electricity consumption by 2020, it needed to roll out a secure smart metering solution. Vodafone provides the M2M infrastructure to support the rollout, and offers consultancy on best practice and strategic planning, particularly from its experience in the global energy sector.

The need
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 DriessenMutters, Smart Metering Operations Manager at Enexis. M2M SIMs installed in smart meters would be able to transmit data via Vodafones 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 companys voice and data connections, so they knew the service they could expect. Were 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 DriessenMutters.

Enexis case study

The solution
A Vodafone SIM is integrated into the smart meter and transmits energy consumption data to and from Enexiss data centres. An SMS activates the smart meter each day, measuring energy consumption data from the home. The smart meter then transmits the data via GPRS and then switches off. This reduces power consumption and keeps transmission costs to a minimum. The SIM installation is supported by Vodafones ordering and activation system, using web-based tools to ensure high volumes of SIMs are delivered and managed. Real-time information on every device, including data usage, is integrated into the Enexis back-end systems. Vodafones M2M platform manages the SIM throughout its lifecycle including solution design and optimisation, logistics, installation, customer care and customised billing. The initial rollout covered 3,000 smart meters, but has since been extended to approximately 100,000 locations, with plans for a further 150,000 installations in the near future. This will be the natural replacements of conventional meters, added to requests from individual customers who can receive a priority installation of a smart electricity and gas meter for 60. However, if we only install smart meters as a natural replacement and at the request of a customer, this rate of growth will not be enough to meet the EU targets, says Driessen-Mutters. We therefore at some point will expand the rollout by going door to door installing smart meters.

The solution has been really well received by homeowners, they appreciate being able to see their energy consumption in real-time.
Lonneke Driessen-Mutters, Smart Metering Operations Manager, Enexis

The benefit
The rollout has not been without its challenges. At one point, Driessen-Mutters suspended the rollout. The smart meter solution had not reached the required level of service, and needed reviewing. Vodafones response was to initiate a three-month, cross-party Service Improvement Plan (SIP) led by the Vodafone Global M2M service delivery team. The intervention resulted in an immediate improvement in end-to-end service availability and the rollout schedule resumed. All new business comes with start-up problems. Smart metering is new to everybody; to customers, to energy networks, to meter vendors and to IT system providers. Its a complex ecosystem and weve experienced teething problems with every partner weve dealt with, thats understandable. I will say that were really pleased with how Vodafone has responded. Theyre listening, responding and improving the cross-party service really quickly, says Driessen-Mutters. Vodafones SIP has been so successful that it is now being used as a template for other Enexis suppliers. The SIP also helped balance the mix of local response and global outlook. Enexis has sufficient resources to address challenges locally while being able to access Vodafones global M2M insight to provide strategy and best practice. If theres something we realise we need, Vodafone is able to put it on the roadmap, confirms Driessen-Mutters. For example, while the rollout has attracted little media scrutiny, privacy concerns have been raised in the Netherlands. The smart meter programme was delayed by Parliament until assurances on privacy were in place. In response, Vodafone encrypts all data and Enexis implemented a policy where consumers must opt-in for their data to be scrutinised by energy experts.

Enexis case study

The impact
The benefits of smart metering for Enexis, the energy suppliers and consumers have been easy to recognise. Compared to manually collecting meter readings, smart meters are a far more accurate and efficient way for energy suppliers to collect data. By not having to chase consumers or dispatch staff to read meters, costs are also reduced. Energy suppliers are also able to monitor usage patterns more effectively, thereby anticipating spikes and planning supply. Previously, suppliers operated at a maximum demand which encouraged oversupply, the data from smart meters now enables more accurate forecasting. Part of the EUs justification for smart meters was that consumers will lower their energy consumption once they are able to see their usage: If you can measure it, you can manage it. This is supported by early trials, although Driessen-Mutters is cautious about predicting long-term behavioural change. At the very least consumers will be able to identify high-price periods and make adjustments accordingly. With smart metering, estimated bills are no longer appropriate and consumers can see real-time data on spend. Suppliers are able to tailor tariffs and advise customers of alternative products which save them money and increase customer satisfaction. The solution has been really well received by homeowners, they appreciate being able to see their energy consumption in realtime, concludes Driessen-Mutters.

Were really pleased with how Vodafone has responded. Theyre listening, responding and improving the cross-party service really quickly.
Lonneke Driessen-Mutters, Smart Metering Operations Manager, Enexis

Executive summary
Business need
Following a European Union directive stipulating that at least 80% of homes must be equipped with smart metering systems to monitor electricity consumption, Enexis, one of the largest energy network operators in the Netherlands, needed a reliable and secure communications infrastructure to support smart metering.

Business benefits
Vodafones M2M capabilities provide Enexis with the scalability to help Enexis to meet the legislation targets Comprehensive national network coverage ensures smart metering technology can be implemented throughout the Netherlands Vodafones dedicated M2M business unit offers best practice and strategic planning, particularly from its experience in the global energy sector A dedicated Account Manager, provides a single point of contact to address any challenges and review and improve service levels and boosting the companys green credentials

Solution
A Vodafone Machine to Machine (M2M) SIM is integrated into the smart meter and transmits energy consumption data to and from Enexiss data centres. Vodafones GPRS network provides a reliable and scalable solution to support this large, country-wide rollout.

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