Four Australian utilities and one individual were recognised for their achievements last April as the winners of the Inaugural Digital Utilities Awards, announced at the Digital Utilities Conference in Melbourne on 19 April.
The conference, the first of its kind, was organised by Digital Utilities magazine to capitalise on its view that digitisation “is the greatest challenge currently facing the [utilities] sector.”
Best Customer Innovation
Tasmania’s Government owned electricity distributor, TasNetworks took out the Best Customer Innovation award for its Voice of the Customer Program, comprising its customer connections portal, EmPOWERing You trial, virtual reality software and a variety of advanced network technologies.
For EmPOWERing TasNetworks installed advanced meters at participants’ homes. These collect power use data in 30-minute intervals and via smartphone app or web portal, participants can see how and when they use electricity in their home, enabling them to make informed choices about their usage to suit their lifestyles and needs.
Runners up were:
- AGL for its digital reporting service, Energy Insights that provides customers with a detailed breakdown of their energy usage per home appliance category.
- ERM Power for its digital platform, STEP Online, which gives customers the ability to manage the timing and volume risks associated with contracting in the electricity market.
- SA Power Networks for its Customer Communication Applications (CCA), a set of online customer self-service tools that enable customers to locate and understand why outages are occurring.
Best Use of New Technology
The Best Use of New Technology award also went to an electricity distributor: SA Power Networks for its Smart Networks project, which uses pressure and acoustic leakage sensors and smart meters to improve service delivery, reduce service disruptions and better manage assets.
The award announcement made no mention of another company, A2K Technologies, but it claimed on its website that, to gain theaward, SA Power Networks has worked and consulted with A2K Technologies to develop a solution to move to one system efficiency with Autodesk AutoCAD.
“A2K’s custom built machine learning algorithm saved SA Power Networks an estimated $1 million in labour costs and thousands of man hours [by] consolidation of systems and software assets and standardisation on Autodesk Software products.
“Reduction of manual, time consuming tasks that are high risk, high level effort through automation [and] migration, conversion and replacement of data and files.”
Runners up were:
- • Essential Energy for its use of drone technology to perform network inspection, condition assessment and vegetation management.
- • Horizon Power for its Horizon Power app, which allows regional and remote customers to monitor and control their energy bills.
- • Isle Utilities for its digital platform, Isle CATwizard, which provides a review of condition assessment technologies available worldwide, with a range of searchable parameters.
- • Water Corporation for its use of virtual reality tool ‘Holodeck’ in Safety in Design operability workshops, which enables the operator to walk around the proposed asset as if it was a built environment and better identify safety hazards.
Digital Utility of the Year
The Digital Utility of the Year award recognised the utility making the best use and implementation of digital technologies, tools and processes. This award was was won jointly by Horizon Power and SA Water.
Runners up were Melbourne Water, Powerlink Queensland, SA Power Networks and South East Water.
Utility Innovator of the Year
The Utility Innovator of the Year award recognising the individual making the single biggest contribution to the digitisation of the utility sector went to Frank Tudor, managing director, Horizon Power.