Deregulation in Japan starts to take hold with the announcement that eRex Co., a new entrant in the energy market in the country, will start supplying electricity to residential customers at discount rates. Residents planning to live in a condominium that is being built east of Tokyo will be the first beneficiaries when the condominium opens in two year’s time.
Japan’s power market was deregulated in 2000, when surplus power generated by non-utility companies was allowed to be sold. However, purchasers were committed to buying more than 500 kW. eRex Co. has managed to overcome this by viewing the condominium – made up of 1,900 residential units – as a single user. Electricity charges are expected to be about 5% lower than those currently levied by former monopoly Tokyo Electric Power Co.
Agilent Technologies Inc. has introduced an E-pHEMT (enhancement-mode pseudo-morphic high-electron-mobility transistor) MMIC (monolithic microwave integrated circuit) medium-power amplifier, optimised for use as a driver in wireless fixed-access points/base stations operating at up to 10 HGz. The MGA-425P8 meets wireless local area network (WLAN) linearity requirements while drawing one of the lowest currents in the market.
A ‘smart bias’ feature allows the designer to use the device in several circuit positions, tailoring the gain, linearity and current consumption to suit each position. On-chip bias circuitry allows operation from a single 3.3V power supply.
Brooks Utility Products Group has developed a two-piece, pre-wired electricity meter socket that reduces installation time while lowering inventory costs. The Snap2™ transformer-rated meter panel is supplied in 6, 8 or 13 terminal designs, pre-wired to a customer-approved test switch and colour-coded wiring specifications.
French company Wavecom SA has been identified as France’s highest performing SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) in Hungary, and has received the first Europe Latitud’Export award. This award was organised by the Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade, in partnership with publications Le Moci and Les Echos, and recognises the best French SMEs for their export activity in the ten countries which joined the European Union on 1 May this year.
Norwegian electricity supply companies Ballangen Energi and Trollfjord Kraft are purchasing automatic meter reading systems from Enermet, to meet their needs for productivity improvements and better customer service. Delivery of Enermet’s AIM (Active Information Management) system will begin immediately.
Deregulation in Norway began in 1991, which has created an incentive for utilities to be more aware of the need for cost-effectiveness and the need to offer improved service. The AIM equipment is based on Enermet’s high voltage communication, low voltage communication and point-to-point communication solution. It will include the company’s new integrated household meter – the E120M, which has been developed for communication via the high and low voltage network.
California’s Public Utilities Commission has asked the three large investor-owned utilities in the state to submit business plans for introducing an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). AMI calls for remote meter reading and hourly interval data collection, in order to offer users the opportunity to save on power bills by reducing usage at critical peak periods.
California has been trialling time-of-use rates since last year, and the response from customers has been favourable. They reported that they found the new rates easy to understand, and also appreciated the fact that they were more in control of their energy bills. The objective of introducing AMI is to avoid the rolling blackouts and huge spikes in power prices that were a feature of the state’s energy sector in 2000/2001.
The government of Ontario, Canada, has launched a web site and conservation guide which offers tips on how to reduce energy consumption, conserve water and minimise pollution. The guide is called Ontario Conserves, and the site can be visited at www.ontarioconserves.gov.on.ca. Ontario faces an energy crisis as consumption continues to outstrip supply, and the government wants Ontario to have a 'culture of conservation' in an attempt to alleviate some of the stress on the energy system.
The government of Ontario province in Canada is taking action to ensure that the province is able to meet its long-term energy needs. At present the province has about 30,500MW of generation capacity, and forecasts indicate that it will need a further 25,000MW by 2020. A combination of increased generating capacity and conservation efforts will be needed to reach this figure.
As part of the conservation effort, the government has plans to put smart meters into every home by 2010, with an interim target of 800,000 in place by 2007. Three million more meters will be required to meet the 2010 deadline. The Ontario Ministry of Energy has advised that it will deliver functional specifications to the Ontario Energy Board that include:
Ampy Metering has been awarded the coveted Queen's Award for Enterprise: International Trade 2004- an honour that recognises the company's achievement of growing export sales by nearly 350% over three years, from £5 million in 2001 to almost £17 million in 2003. Export sales now represent close to 50% of the company’s turnover.
The EU-sponsored powerline project OPERA – Open PLC European Research Alliance – part of the larger broadband project Broadband for All, started work early this year. With OPERA the European Commission is emphasising the importance of powerline for the European broadband market. OPERA is being sponsored within the framework of the initiative eEurope and the Information Society Technologies (IST) project.