Utility2Utility: Singapore Power Group
- January 6, 2015
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Singapore Power Group (SP) is a leading energy utility group in the Asia Pacific. It owns and operates electricity and gas transmission and distribution businesses in Singapore and Australia.
For this installment of Utility2Utility we spoke to Lawrence Lee, head of operations & projects, SP Services about outage planning, smart grid and deregulated energy services.
Singapore continues to experience some of the fewest and shortest electricity outages worldwide. How does Singapore Power sustain this?
Lee: Singapore Power (SP) is committed to providing world-class energy utility services, which remain reliable, efficient and sustainable. Besides rigorous operations and processes that are in line with established international best practices, SP also invests in infrastructure and advanced technology to strengthen Singapore’s electricity network. Our networks, including technology from our partner Silver Spring Networks, are amongst the most reliable and cost-effective in the world. In addition, SP places strong emphasis on developing a well-skilled workforce, with a diverse range of expertise to manage the complexity of Singapore's power needs.
You recently won an award at the Asian Power Awards for your smart grid project. Tell us a little about that project.
Lee: To support the government’s move towards liberalizing the electricity market, Singapore Power installed 26,000 smart meters in just two years, instead of the usual three-year time frame. Smart meters allow contestable consumers to better monitor and manage electricity usage, so as to achieve savings on electricity bills.
What benefits do you expect from enabling deregulated energy services in Singapore?
Lee: SP’s customers are at the heart of everything we do. We strive to uphold world-class energy utility services and take every opportunity to ensure customers enjoy convenient, cost-efficient service at every touch point. Through the deployment of smart meters, SP hopes to empower customers with greater choice and the ability to better manage their energy usage, so as to achieve savings on their electricity bills. It is also part of our efforts to promote energy efficiency in Singapore.
What hurdles did you have to overcome with this project?
Lee: As with any major undertaking, there were numerous challenges that the team had to overcome, such as the introduction of micro AP, the identification of appropriate sites for access point (AP) and relays, managing poor RF coverage and the integration of various meter brands. Despite these challenges, the SP team was able to build on our internal expertise and sound processes to see the project through successfully. We also want to thank our partners, including the government, retailers, consultants and other stakeholders, for their support in making the project a success.
You've maintained a 99.5% meter read success rate despite expanding to reach geographically dispersed customers. How was that accomplished?
Lee: This feat was achieved by the continuous optimization of the communications coverage through AP, micro AP and relays. In addition, the real time monitoring of the whole system and network devices through automatic abnormality alerts helped to keep SP’s officers informed of the situation on the ground, so that they can be deployed swiftly to rectify issues that surface.
What advice would you give other utilities in planning for a smarter grid and a smart city overall?
Lee: Planning a smart grid takes considerable amount of time and effort. Every city is different and each has its own unique challenges. Utilities should factor a longer planning lead time for their projects and to undertake a proof of concept before choosing a system. Another key factor in our success is our team of experienced and committed engineers and technicians and their good synergy and teamwork with project partners.