Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Tonga Power to roll out smart meters on Tongatapu next year

Steve Rogerson
November 3, 2015
Tonga Power is to begin deploying smart meters to more than 15,000 customers on Tongatapu early next year. The first stage of the project entails the deployment of 3000 meters, focusing primarily on customers that are vulnerable to financial constraints with the option for prepayment of their electricity.
As Tonga’s power grid evolves into a broad platform with the integration of new sources of renewable energy and technologies, the ability to connect legacy assets and systems and integration of new technologies are critical, and smart meters support this.
Changing the existing electric meters with smart meter sis part of Tonga Power’s plan to improve electricity services to consumers. Smart meters will allow Tonga Power to offer alternative methods of billing and paying for electricity such as prepayment. It will also allow the utility to monitor more closely the quality of power that it is providing.
“The rollout of smart meters across our network is a significant step in offering our customers a pre-payment option,” said Tonga Power’s CEO Robert Matthews. “The meters can be remotely interrogated by head office to provide important customer usage and billing information including quality of supply and performance of our electricity network. The next five years will see the further deployment of more than 20,000 meters throughout the Kingdom of Tonga.”
The technology will help eliminate the relatively high number of disconnections each month and improve Tonga Power’s customer service.
Itron, a US technology and services company, has been selected to provide Openway Riva technology to Tonga Power for this project. This should enable in-depth energy management with Tonga Power’s renewable integration and will help optimise network communications.
OpenWay Riva enhances the capability of the OpenWay smart grid platform by delivering communications and distributed applications to solve critical problems facing power grids.
“The technology has been under development throughout the last decade with Tonga Power deploying its latest release,” said Tonga Power’s project manager Lualala Tapueluelu. “This system will enable Tonga Power to monitor conditions and performance of the electricity network at each customer’s network connection.”
The intelligent energy meters can operate in prepayment or credit mode. They provide accurate information on consumption and customer costs direct to Tonga Power in real time. The technology can detect technical problems or faults in the supply of electricity, thus reducing the disruption to consumers.
The OpenWay Riva deployment includes the installation of a smart meter device on every connection to the network in Tongatapu connecting the system to the back office through a mesh radio network. This enables dynamic selection of the optimal communications path based on network operating conditions, data attributes and application requirements.
Tongatapu is the main island of the Kingdom of Tonga and contains the capital Nuku’alofa.