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The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy
Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy

The Hon Martin Ferguson MP
Minister for Resources, Energy and Tourism

Australia one step closer to a new energy era: Smart Grid, Smart City

Joint media release
30 September 2009

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The Australian Government today announced the next crucial step in transforming Australia's energy grid, with the potential to reduce home energy bills, reduce carbon pollution and help tackle climate change.

The $100 million Smart Grid, Smart City initiative will see Government and energy and communications sectors working in partnership to rollout Australia's first commercial-scale smart grid.

Releasing the report Smart Grid, Smart City: A new direction for a new energy era, which comes after two months of consultation and research, Environment Minister, Peter Garrett said it provides valuable insights into how smart grids can work in Australia.

“Smart grids are modern electricity grids that interact with information technology and communications infrastructure to more effectively manage Australia's energy supply and use,” Mr Garrett said.

“With this $100 million investment, Australia will showcase the world's best practice when it comes to investing in smart grid technologies, helping industry get on with the job of rolling out these technologies and supporting clean energy jobs.

“From the power plant to the power point, smart grids enable a two-way flow of information between energy suppliers and consumers. Linking all these energy data points creates a web of information so that energy can be delivered where and when it is required; the potential economic benefits of creating an Internet for the energy industry are staggering.”

Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, said: “Connected digital technologies like smart grids will underpin our future carbon constrained economy and this collaborative initiative is a great opportunity for Australia to become a leader in this field.”

“The National Broadband Network will enable a whole range of applications to help Australia create a smarter and more efficient energy network.”

Smart grids help energy suppliers to better manage peak loads, reduce the risk of black-outs during peak-use periods, improve the reliability of electricity supply, and effectively incorporate renewable and distributed energies such as wind, solar and cogeneration.

Smart meters, pricing and tariff programs, intelligent appliances and in-home energy displays will help customers better manage their energy use and make informed choices about when and how they use electricity.

The Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson, said the roll out will complement the work already undertaken on smart meter deployment in Australia through the Ministerial Council on Energy.

“This Program represents an important opportunity to deploy smart grid technology at a scale to test the benefits to the grid and consumers.”

Minister Garrett said it was encouraging to have strong support from industry and consumer groups for smart grids in Australia, with Australian and international stakeholders and experts contributing to the consultation process and report.

“To provide further guidance to industry today, I am also releasing draft grant guidelines for the project, and the Government would like to hear from the community and industry about the proposed guidelines and selection criteria for the Smart Grid, Smart City project,” Minister Garrett said.

Smart Grid, Smart City will provide valuable information that will drive industry investment in smart grid technologies in the future.

“Early estimates show that if smart grid applications are adopted around Australia they could deliver significant economic and environmental benefits to the Australian economy, including an estimated minimum reduction of 3.5 mega-tonnes of carbon emissions per annum,” Minister Garrett said.

“While these are only initial estimates, they show the critical importance of rigorously testing the costs and benefits of applications through Smart Grid, Smart City, helping accelerate and better target the energy sector's investment in these technologies.”

The report Smart Grid, Smart City: A new direction for a new energy era, the draft grant guidelines and details about consultation workshops are available at www.environment.gov.au/smartgrid

Applications for consortia to deliver the project will be sought when final grant guidelines are released in late October.

Commonwealth of Australia