Smart grid likely to roll on

Australia's nascent energy smart grid may continue to enjoy federal government support whatever party wins the next election.

Australia's nascent energy smart grid may continue to enjoy federal government support whatever party wins the next election.

All major political parties have left the door open to continue to back projects aimed at improving the efficiency of electricity usage.

Since 2010 up to 30,000 households have participated in the multiyear Ausgrid-led $100 million Smart Grid, Smart City project. It aims to build a business case for key smart grid applications and technologies, and gather data to guide broader adoption.

The initiative draws to a close in September, with the major analysis due in early 2014. "A series of research projects are being done ahead of the final release of the outcomes, the most significant being an integrated cost-benefit analysis to address the total benefits of all technologies," an Ausgrid spokesman said.

Smart grids involve the deployment of new technologies such as smart meters across electricity networks, and analytics tools to assess the data captured.

While there are several smart grid pilots in Australia and a large-scale rollout in Victoria, the Canberra-funded project has been considered one of the most important in informing decisions on future investment.

Labor's Minister for Resources and Energy, Gary Gray, would not say what the party's position is following the project or if additional investment would be made. But he has not ruled out an announcement on budget day or before the election.

Shadow energy minister Ian Macfarlane committed - in a statement to IT Pro - to an evaluation of the effectiveness of the project should it win power in September.

Green's leader Christine Milne said the party would release its position closer to the election.

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