Smart Meter Project

Smart Meter Project

We aim to install approximately 29 million smart meters for all customers in all service areas by FY2020 and we are striving for real-time transmission and processing of power consumption (cumulative) every 30 minutes. This is a large-scale project that is an immense challenge even from a global perspective. This project is large and diverse, covering many goals from the development of new meters to the construction of communication and operational management systems and stable operation. We are currently shifting from the development phase to the operation phase, and are working on installing the full number of meters and stable operation of the smart meter system.

We have drastically reviewed the existing ten-year installation plan that was to be implemented from FY2014 to FY2023. The schedule was expedited by three years aiming for a seven-year plan with installation in all service areas by FY2020.

Development of the Smart Meter System

Development of the smart meter system is divided into three main areas: (1) development of meters, (2) construction of the communication system, and (3) construction of the MDMS system.

Development of Smart Meters

Smart meters have a modular design with the metering unit separated from the electrical terminals. This makes it easy to safely replace the instrumentation without the need to handle live wires. In addition, since they are equipped with bidirectional metering functionality as standard, it is unnecessary to install a separate meter for cases such as when customers generate power through solar panels that is purchased by the provider. From now on, we plan to focus on lowering costs by reducing the number of parts through a new design that integrates the metering and communication units.

Introduction of the Most Suitable Communication Method

Smart meters can use various communication methods such as the RF mesh network, the wireless star network, and the PLC method. Combining the most suitable method for each particular case enables a high area coverage rate and fast expansion into new areas.

Smart Meter Communication Method: Features of the RF Mesh Method

With the RF mesh method, adjacent smart meters communicate with each other and the signal is relayed through the network to a concentrator. The use of specified low power radio signals means that wireless base stations are not necessary. As this type of network extends the range of communication of each concentrator, it is possible to create efficient facilities that can utilize multiple communication paths.

Smart Meter System Monitoring and Management

In order to centrally manage the security, operation, and maintenance of the smart meter system, we established the Smart Meter Operations Center in July 2015 for continuous monitoring and operation of the system.
Since April 2018, our Cyber Security Center has been responsible for managing the security of the smart meter system.

Key Points Upon Introduction of Smart Meters

Through the introduction of smart meters, we have considered the following key points in order to realize benefits to society, customers, and our company.

  1. Make maximum use of external expertise and the existing infrastructure of other business operators to suppress capital investment.
  2. Publish open specifications that make it easier for domestic and foreign businesses to enter the market. Promoting competition can lower costs.
  3. Rather than only pursuing economic rationality, make the smart meter network a system with technical expandability as social infrastructure, which will realize Demand Response and become the basis for future services that utilize meter reading data that is marked for future development.

Benefits of the Introduction of Smart Meters (1)

Smart meters are equipped with the electricity meter information transmission service (route B). This makes it possible to transmit the smart meter’s measured value to the HEMS controller* in real time. Being able to visualize the amount of electricity used based on the information received from the smart meter is expected to allow more efficient energy-saving performance. For example, the customer can allow the HEMS controller to limit the use of home appliances in periods when there are higher levels of electricity consumption.

* The HEMS controller must be prepared by the customer.

Benefits of the Introduction of Smart Meters (2)

Under the current system, facilities are constructed after estimating the load current for each transformer based on customers’ contract information (contracted capacity and type). The validity of coefficients used for calculating the estimated load current is confirmed by comparing it with current data from a sample transformer. The introduction of smart meters makes it possible to understand the amount of current by analyzing the electricity usage amount over a 30-minute period for each meter. Therefore, it is possible to calculate the expected load current with a higher accuracy than the current system. This is expected to improve the efficiency of facilities thanks to being able to select more appropriate transformer capacities.

Benefits of the Introduction of Smart Meters (3)

Automated remote operation of smart meters improves the efficiency of work such as meter reading and reduces customer burden by not requiring them to be present during the reading.

We will continue to strive to ensure stable and secure operation of the smart meter system and steadily advance the smart meter project so that we can provide services that utilize the advanced functionality of smart meters to all customers.

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