One of the many benefits of the International Community for Local Smart Grids (ICLSG) partnership is that it can open up conversations and knowledge sharing across the world, in response to our global challenge.
As a direct result of our monthly partnership discussions which have recently focused on Network Resilience, ICLSG partners Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Distribution and TEPCO Power Grid held a discussion to learn from one another’s approach to power outages and their support for vulnerable customers. TEPCO and SSEN’s networks are nearly 6,000 miles apart but face similar challenges, including extreme weather events and customers who may rely on electricity for medical equipment at home, plus both businesses must manage the challenges of increasing electricity demand in the transition to net zero.
This bilateral meeting included discussions about:
- How we communicate with customers during a power outage
- What information is shared with customers and how granular that can be
- How we support vulnerable customers, for example providing generators
Our businesses must make best use of resources to support communities who are affected by extreme weather. SSEN described relationships it has established with charities and Local Resilience Forums to support a coordinated response. SSEN also shared how colleagues across the business have been trained to fulfill a ‘storm role’ which may be completely different to their usual job. This means additional human resource is available when needed. TEPCO shared the example of how their fleet of electric vehicles can be deployed as “batteries on wheels” and sent to community centres, such as schools, in the event of an outage to provide temporary charging facilities.
The meeting participants also compared smart meter penetration which on TEPCO’s network has reached almost 100% after a roll-out programme which installed 28.4 million smart meters, over seven years. These meters now provide valuable visibility of the network to TEPCO. With approximately a third of UK homes having a smart meter, there is still some distance to travel for British networks.
TEPCO and SSEN intend to continue to share expertise and learn from one another. This is one of many bilaterial conversations that have occured across the partnership as a result of the international community.