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Meridian Energy launches Peak Manager

Tuesday, 9 May 2006

Meridian Energy launches Peak Manager in Christchurch

A 'smart' automated electricity management system ­ designed to provide network cost savings ­ is being offered to Meridian Energy's time-of-use business customers in the Orion network.

The system is called 'Peak Manager' and it can assist in reducing peak network costs set by Orion to encourage businesses to switch off demand at high usage times.

"We have been trialling Peak Manager with selected customers and are now ready to offer it to our other time-of-use business customers, which are large users of electricity in the Christchurch area," says Alan Seay, Meridian Energy spokesperson.

Orion calculates part of its annual network charge for large electricity users on their average demand during times referred to as 'Control Periods' (when Orion sends signals to customers to reduce demand because of high network loading).

By reducing load during these Control Periods, a business can usually reduce its annual network costs. For example, just turning off a one-bar-heater that is on during a Control Period can save around $112 a year in network charges.

The heaviest power usage times in Christchurch typically occur on business days in winter during mornings, and evenings. Businesses contribute by switching on heaters and equipment, which sends network demand soaring.

Peak Manager can, for example, be programmed to switch heating on early in the morning so that workshops and offices are pre-heated for the start of the day, and then switch them off for a while when Orion sends out its Control Period Demand signals.

Any item of plant or equipment that a large business customer can turn off during these times can assist in mitigating overall network charges.

"We have been very encouraged by the flexibility and potential network cost savings provided by the Peak Manager system," says Alan Seay.

"A local manufacturer that has been using Peak Manager for the past two years has made significant savings relating to Control Period charges as a direct result of the Peak Manager system."

This was achieved by the Peak Manager system automatically turning off non-essential equipment during Control Periods.

Technical details The Peak Manager system is based on an industry standard Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) that costs around $2,000 for the basic system. The cost of installing and configuring Peak Manager depends on the complexity and how many items of plant or non-essential equipment are available to be controlled. A typical cost for a medium sized industrial building is around $6,000-$8,000 (excluding GST).

Peak Manager can be programmed to turn equipment back on after a specific time, even if the Control Period is still in operation.

Chillers, heating, pumping and other processes for instance, may have over-arching constraints, and these items can be turned back on after a certain time to meet production criteria. In this case, businesses can still benefit from reduced network charges because their average load during the Control Periods will have been reduced.

Businesses need to identify what equipment is normally running during Control Periods, and what can potentially be turned off.

Peak Manager is flexible enough to take into account weekends and public holidays, and can be programmed to a resolution of one minute.

An organisation would need to have a connected capacity of 250 kVA or more for Peak Manager to be cost effective.


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