Ergon Energy maintains and manages the regional electric distribution network across Queensland, Australia. It provides energy for over 720,000 homes and businesses, covering 97% of the state of Queensland. Its distribution network reaches some of the most rural parts of Australia, requiring 160,000 kilometres of power lines and more than a million power poles.

When severe weather or natural disasters hit, damage can occur to the transmission grid. It’s estimated that over 80% of network faults can be attributed to short-term disrupted power lines. To combat this, utility companies use reclosers which can be placed at strategic locations throughout the network, limiting and isolating damage and re-routing power.

In order to function optimally, reclosers need an always-available, real-time connectivity solution so they can be triggered remotely and also provide data to the operations centre. That enables utility companies to prioritise restoration activities, reduce customer outage time, decrease revenue impact and minimise the potential for cascading infrastructure damage. Inmarsat’s BGAN M2M service provides a seamless, real-time, IP-based connectivity service, to remotely monitor, control, and manage the recloser network.

Initial deployment of 100 terminals was completed quickly and efficiently, with no need for specialist installers or training and rapidly expanded to other devices and sites. Each recloser uses between 5MB and 15MB of data per month in real-time and BGAN M2M’s pooled data plans mean that Ergon Energy has complete budget control of its communications needs.

Inmarsat’s BGAN M2M provided the reliability, cost effectiveness, security and ease of use that Ergon Energy was looking for to automate and monitor its distribution network, and with the service expected to have an operational lifetime well into the 2020s, BGAN M2M will continue to serve efficiently and effectively for many years to come.

“The Inmarsat BGAN M2M service has given us access to parts of our distribution network that had remained out of bounds when it comes to remote monitoring and control. We chose Inmarsat for its reliability. Monitoring and controlling a power grid needs a real-time, always available flow of information and we’re happy to say Inmarsat’s service has been extremely reliable.”
Sanjeewa Athuraliya, Senior Telecommunications Architect, Ergon Energy