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Scottish Power picks Vodafone to manage smart electricity grid

Four-year contract will see mobile operator manage performance monitoring and fault identification systems as energy supplier transitions to smart grid technologies

Energy supplier Scottish Power has awarded mobile operator Vodafone a €100m (£74.7m) contract to manage and upgrade performance monitoring and fault identification systems on its electricity transmission and distribution networks.

Scottish Power, which covers 3.5 million homes and businesses across the UK, operates 100,000km of overhead lines and underground cables, and more than 30,000 electricity substations in Scotland, Merseyside and Wales.

Under the contract, Vodafone will operate and enhance remote monitoring data systems and offer specialised support to Scottish Power to implement smart grid technologies and improve integration of renewables.

The data gathered by the supplier will help Scottish Power to prioritise network improvement plans as part of a £6bn, eight-year drive to upgrade its infrastructure.

“A world-class power distribution network relies on world-class digital communications to function effectively,” said Vodafone global enterprise chief executive Jan Geldmacher.

“We welcome the opportunity to work with ScottishPower in support of the company’s plans to meet the long-term needs of its customers.”

Scottish Power CEO Frank Mitchell said: “This is a major contract that is designed to enhance our network operations and, ultimately, benefit our 3.5 million customers.

“We look forward to working with Vodafone, which will provide communications systems that will help us to manage the day-to-day reliability of our network and plan for the future.”

Over the coming years, the relationship will extend to help ScottishPower transition to a smart grid, using digital technologies – such as smart meters – to help make its network more efficient and reduce costs for consumers.

Read more about smart grids

Earlier this month, the UK government was forced to deny that the troubled £11bn smart meter roll-out was in trouble.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Meg Hiller, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said former Conservative energy adviser Alex Henney had warned energy and climate change minister Amber Rudd that the roll-out was at best “a waste of money and it is a 'ghastly mess'.”

Rudd responded: “Smart meters will have a great future in this country. Smart meters will be a very good way for people to reduce their bills and use less energy, therefore creating fewer carbon emissions.”

According to Rudd, two million smart meters have been installed in British homes.

In 2015, the Energy and Climate Change Committee, under MP Tim Yeo, warned that the scheme to install smart meters in every British home by 2020 risked becoming yet another government IT failure.

“The government is at a crossroads on its policy,” said Yeo in a report. “It can continue with its current approach and risk embarrassment through public disengagement on a flagship energy policy, or it can grip the reins and steer the energy industry along a more successful path.”

The Institute of Directors has also criticised the scheme, saying it should be “halted, altered or scrapped”. ...................................

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