Changing the game for energy consumers
Whether it’s metering, communications or meter data management systems, Arc Innovations can integrate and deploy state of the art technology.
With 85 staff across customer service delivery, technology development and support and in corporate services and customer relationship management, Arc is well positioned in New Zealand to lead the swing to smart meter services.
Who is Arc Innovations?
Arc launched in 2003 as a standalone subsidiary of Meridian Energy.
The company was tasked with developing, building and deploying technology to take advantage of the benefits of AMI. The vision was to create a new landscape of connected meters to provide useful and timely delivery of information for energy users.
Arc’s first pilot project was the roll out of an end-to-end AMI platform to Meridian Energy’s nearly 6,000 customers in Central Hawke’s Bay.
This was followed by the deployment of smart meters to 125,000 urban and rural customers spread out across Canterbury.
Arc's AMI value chain
AMI is changing the rules of the energy game and Arc is creating the technology to make it happen. We are committed to a modernised electric power system that fits with today’s energy conscious lifestyle.
In our Christchurch research and development labs, technicians design and develop smart meters that track energy use, two-way communication systems that work across the energy network through satellites and RF mesh networks, software programmes and hardware to run data management systems.
Relationships are also important and Arc works with local and global technology partners in varying capacities to ensure our clients receive the latest technology available.
Reliable network communications are vital to the success of a smart metering solution. The meters transmit power consumption data to Arc’s back office through radio frequency mesh network as well as about GPRS connections and satellite connections across its two smart metering networks.
The true two-way communications capability and decentralised intelligence residing in the meter minimises congestion over the networks. Our meters are locally rules-driven while retaining flexibility, and ensuring future-proofed functionality through remotely configurable and upgradable firmware capability. Industry standards are used where practical.
It’s both technology and relationships that reflect Arc’s dynamic, innovative and market leading vision. We are highly engaged with our customers and provide them with unparalleled support, information and services which in turn can improve the lives and budgets of their customers.
At our laboratories we continue to work on future-proofing the Arc system because there is no telling where the future will go.
Why do we need smart metering systems
Energy is consumed the minute it is generated. The electricity grid that powers our country transmits thousands of megawatts of capacity over hundreds of thousands of kilometres of transmission lines so we can flick a switch and turn things on.
But with every new TV, air conditioner or appliance that plugs into the electricity network, demand for power increases. As we increase our usage, it increases the pressure on the electrical grid, at some point the grid runs the risk of being overloaded.
Energy conscious consumers are starting to demand a modernised electric power system, which is where Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) systems come in. They allow consumers to use electricity more efficiently.
By understanding peak power periods and consumption behaviour, consumers and utility companies can adapt their usage accordingly. In the not too distant future, price signals will be able to be relayed to the smart meters which will in turn have been set by consumers to power up appliances accordingly. High use appliances such as tumble driers can be set to turn on when the price of power drops to a certain level.
By being able to monitor peak flow periods, energy generators know when to bring generation assets on line to cope with the extra demand. These assets often sit idle but cost the company anyway.
With greater transparency and visibility into the system, a smart network can potentially eliminate the need for building more peak plants. It’s cleaner, greener and more efficient.
Smart Meter deployment
The Central Hawke’s Bay Project and Orion Project in Canterbury have helped Arc develop tried and tested deployment methodology that has been successful in some of the most complex geographies in the world.
As part of its service catalogue, Arc Innovations is able to deliver a number of innovative solutions to energy retailers.
Daily half hourly data delivery
Traditionally meter reads were collected manually by meter readers visiting a property. To save on costs this would normally happen once every two months, with the read for the month in between being estimated. With the advent of smart meters there is no longer the need for a meter reader to visit the property so retailers have been able to save costs and avoid the need for estimated reads.
Smart energy services for small business
Arc believes that a key area that will reduce energy use, with all the associated benefits of that, is the Small to Medium Business sector.
Small businesses are a large consumer of electricity but many don’t understand the options available to them for saving money on their electricity.
Ensuring smart solutions for high energy use
Many of the ‘high value’ consumers of electricity use a metering type called CT or current transformer meters. This type of metering doesn’t measure the flow of electricity directly through the meter; rather it measures the electricity via the CT on the main supply. These installations are always three phase supplies.
A disadvantage of this solution is that the measurement of a phase can fail even though power is still being supplied.
Grow micro-generation energy sources
With the increasing cost of electricity many users are seriously considering the use of micro-generation options like solar and wind to supplement their mains supply.
Remote disconnection and reconnection services
A key service provided by retailers is the ability to remotely disconnect or reconnect power to premises.
Disconnection of power can be for a number of reasons, including credit, vacancy and of course safety of which there were many after the recent earthquake.