The Chapel Group

Clean Technology. Made Simple.

Can blockchain-enabled smart meters help vulnerable energy consumers?

The potential of blockchain in the energy industry, which most people know as the distributed ledger technology powering Bitcoin, has had me excited for some time.  The more I delve into blockchain, assuming the known issues are ironed out in the coming years, the more use cases I can imagine.

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Who is accountable for reliability of the network with contracted demand response?

As Australia continues to navigate the evolution of demand response, an interesting question has emerged.  Who is accountable for the network ‘going dark’ if the distributors are forced to use contracted demand response?

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How much will communities change the face of demand response?

A few weeks ago I had the good fortune of presenting at Energy Consumers Australia (ECA) Foresighting Forum 2018Rosemary Sinclair, ECA’s CEO stated in her opening speech.

“The theme for Foresighting Forum 18 is take charge, shifting power to consumers, in the using, making, and trading of energy”.

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Facilitating Access to Consumer Energy Data – Consultation Paper

It is a great step forward to see the COAG Energy Council’s consultation paper, Facilitating Access to Consumer Energy Data.  I am pleased with the overall direction.  I believe we could move faster than the recommended timeframes, but then I am always impatient and believe we should be able to move faster than we actually do.

I made the following key observations in my submission, and would be interested in your thoughts:

  1. The paper talks about leveraging existing rules and structures where possible to expedite the process. I agree, but I believe some of the recommendations may not be in the best long term interests of the consumer.  In that case, existing structures and rules should not be leveraged.
  2. I was unsure why the distributor, or DNSP, was the recommended party to source and share meter data.  Under the new market structure, it makes more sense for the Meter Data Provider, or MDP to source and share the meter data.  I submitted a series of reasons as to why the MDP is better positioned to provide this service.
  3. I agree that AEMO should act as the central hub to manage all transactions.  I did question the value in AEMO storing all meter data when the reality is, a small percentage of the population will ever have their energy data accessed.  With the proposed model we will be paying large sums to capture and manage a lot of data where the majority of it will never be used to deliver value to consumers.  Instead, I wondered if it would be better for AEMO to manage the security and integrity of the transactions.
  4. I asked to what extent the research has leveraged the work done by the Green Button Alliance (GBA)?  If we were to leverage the GBA framework, Australian start-ups would have instant access to the lucrative US market.
  5. Finally, it was not clear to me the granularity, timeliness, and frequency of data to be made available.  I suggested it should start off being in line with current market practices.  In other words an approved third party should get access to the data in the same way a Retailer, and Distributor does.

This is a very important initiative that, if well designed, will deliver significant benefits to consumers and our community.  Your voice is important.  What do you think about the proposals set out in the paper?


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Green Technology Blogs

The Digital Utility framework that puts consumers and communities first

Since 2012 I have been leading smart energy programs and helping develop digital utility roadmaps.  The most important lesson I learned along the way is to focus on services that are in the best interests of the consumers and communities you serve.  This in turn will be in the best interests of your shareholders.  Having the right roadmap is just the beginning.  You must have a compelling narrative.  One that is authentic and can explain why your roadmap helps solves real world problems.  You must engage your stakeholders early and often.  Collaborating with stakeholders on your roadmap is a never ending journey.

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Navigating the 8 utility industry challenges

In a previous post, I talked about the six utility industry truths.  Much like the ‘canary in the coal mine’ concept, awareness of these six industry truths can act as an early warning system and can be used to help us navigate the following eight utility industry challenges. I expand on each of the challenges below in my book, The Digital Utility.

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The 6 immutable industry truths

I believe there are six immutable utility industry truths. How we decide to interpret these is up to us, but we cannot ignore them.

Like the canary in the coal mine, these industry truths should be used as an early warning to help inform the decisions we make when developing our digital roadmaps.

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An approach to Australia enabling third party access to energy data

In this, the final post in the series on designing third party access to energy data, let’s discuss the decisions that need to be made ‘under the hood’.

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Community Based Demand Response

The spike in temperature into the 40’s in Melbourne on the weekend got me thinking of the old lady who was ahead of me in the queue at the post office last week. She was beside herself with worry over a “threatening letter” she had received from her electricity retailer.  She was “scared” as she did not know how she was going to pay her bill.  I wondered what decisions she would have made on the hot night we have just had to keep herself cool and in good health.

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