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    Huawei Helps PLN Batam Enter the Smart Metering Era

Batam is one of Indonesia’s Riau Islands. The Free Port of Batam was built in 1978, with future plans to develop it into a diversified industrial and commercial center and tourist destination. With a total area of about 715 square kilometers, Batam is the second-largest tourist destination in Indonesia, following Bali, and is known as “little Bali island.” It is the closest Indonesian island to Singapore, only 20 kilometers across the Singapore Strait.

PLN Batam Faces a Problem with Mechanical Meters and Duplicated Meter-Readings

PLN Batam is responsible for power generation, the power grid, specific planning, device procurement, and related requirements (including Advanced Metering Infrastructure — AMI — and smart grid standards) for Batam, and is also responsible for selling electricity to end users. PLN Batam serves more than 300,000 customers, of which about 30,000 use prepaid meters. These customers mainly used mechanical meters and a small number of electronic meters.

Similar to most electric power companies that use manual meter reading, PLN Batam faced problems such as low meter reading efficiency, user arrears, and poor user-load change experience.

• Customers in Batam are scattered, so meter reading required a team of 154 people. The team spent 40 percent of its working time on site meter reading and 60 percent on site maintenance. The cost of manual meter reading was tens of thousands of dollars per year and increased by 15 percent year over year.

• The company struggled to collect fees from some customers. As of August 2018, customers in arrears (almost 3 percent of total customers) owed hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the average overdue period was about two months. To restore power after processing an overdue account, PLN Batam had to post alarm stickers on site, assign dedicated employees to handle power on-site failure, and assign dedicated employees to restore the power supply. This process was time-consuming and labor-intensive.

• Customers had a difficult time changing their service. Customers had to submit an application and pay a fee in the PLN Batam service center. Then PLN Batam arranged engineers to perform configuration operations on site. The entire process took one to five days.

Centralized Metering Communication Solves Meter-Reading Problems

Huawei’s AMI Solution provides an intelligent metering system based on bi-directional high-speed communication. Precise digital technologies collect all power consumption information.

To solve the above meter-reading and electricity-consumption management problems, PLN Batam launched an AMI pilot project in 2017 using the Huawei ICT solution, which has been used by more than 190 electric power companies in 73 countries. This centralized metering communication solution has the following features:

• Huawei’s industrial router AR530 is used as the Data Concentrator Unit (DCU) to automatically collect electricity consumption and meter status data. The router supports data analysis and processing, and uploads data to a management system, which enables PLN Batam to remotely read meter data and implement functions, such as real-time charging.

• Huawei’s innovative broadband Power Line Carrier for the Internet of Things (PLC-IoT) technology is used to collect all power consumption information. Communications between meters and concentrators are implemented through the PLC, and the data is then transmitted to the main control center through the local telecom carrier’s public networks, ensuring 100 percent success rate for meter reading. This solution provides professional network services and supports joint efforts with local partners to build a smart meter ecosystem, as well as compatibility with multiple vendor protocols and mainstream application vendors.

• A comprehensive user management system helps prevent electricity theft, analyze line loss statistics, and achieve efficient operation. At the application layer, the router DCU provides edge-computing capabilities such as transformer district identification, line loss analysis, and fault location. A prepayment solution for large electricity users and a load control feature resolve billing difficulties. This solution provides analysis of high-value-customer power consumption, load forecasting, group management, and VIP policies to achieve orderly power usage and management.

Integrating the PLC-IoT module into the meter partner’s communications module is the last-mile key point of smart metering. Huawei PLC-IoT simplifies this integration with the following advantages:

• The IEEE P1901.1-compliant broadband PLC module provides a 2 Mbit/s application-layer rate, which is 20 times faster than that of traditional approaches.

• Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing (OFDM) technology and 2 MHz to 12 MHz operating frequencies eliminate harmonic interference from low-voltage grids.

• 512 sub-carriers provide a high-performance network with a maximum rate of 2 Mbit/s, and support meter firmware upgrades and ad-hoc networking within 2 minutes.

• 15 relay levels and a single hop range of 100 meters to 500 meters ensure efficient communications between each router DCU and meters in any scenario.

Huawei Makes Every Watt Count

Before project delivery, the Huawei smart metering system passed the on-site acceptance test organized by PLN Batam, and dozens of other tests were performed. After delivery of the full solution, the system has been a success in terms of business operation, cost, and Return on Investment (ROI):

• High meter-reading success rate: Within three months, the smart metering system achieved 100 percent meter reading success, and the data is comprehensive and reliably accurate.

• Smart operation: PLN Batam controls the operating quality of the power grid, provides data support for reducing line loss, and finds key measures to further reduce line loss.

• Reduced line loss rate: The line loss rate has decreased up to 4.5 percent.

• Reduced labor cost: Remote operation helps reduce the arrears rate as well as the overall O&M cost to the company.

The Batam AMI system is a success for PLN in the smart grid field. PLN is expected to replicate the successful experience of the Batam AMI project in Indonesia. Huawei will do its best to contribute to building an Indonesian smart grid by making every watt count.