Hot|Cool NO.3/2016 - "Cooperation in the energy sector"


By journalist Sebastian Kjær

In the past four years, eight small utilities from West Denmark have been collaborating on a so-called AMR (automatic reading meters) project of 130 million DKK. This collaboration has proven to be beneficial for the companies as well as the consumers. Over the last three years, 160,000 meters for remote reading have been installed in 100,000 households in Central and West Jutland. Behind the big project is an association of eight small utilities in western Jutland (see fact box). "We could have done it independently and maybe the process had gone faster if we had made it ourselves. But we have accomplished it together, which has certainly resulted in a better product in the end”, says Lars Kristensen, project manager in RAH, who coordinates the project. With a requirement by the government that all meters must be remote read by 2020, it was a set assignment. However, by joining forces across utilities and supply areas, the project has provided a cheaper as well as a better option.

"RAH and Ringkøbing District Heating Company discussed how it might be wise to make such a project together. The approach was that there would be a great signalling effect in showing that we can work together to develop something for the benefit of both customers and the local area”, says Lars Kristensen.

The companies felt obliged to deliver a solution that was competitive with the large utilities that surround them - a well- known challenge in the area, which made the collaboration grow to eight companies that, across the supply areas, could see an advantage in gathering the muscle in one project. "Traditionally, we have cooperated with a number of local companies and it was really because of that experience that we decided that we needed to make the project together. We entered the cooperation because we saw some economic and operational benefits that we would not be able to achieve alone because we are a small company”, says Henrik Brændgaard, managing director of MES, which has spent 23-24 million DKK on the project. He estimates that the project's offer of 160,000 meters has given MES and thus the electricity consumers in Brande a better price than if they would have had to purchase the approximately 15,000 meters themselves which were to be installed in their area. However, along the way there have also been other benefits than the financial ones. “We have been able to use the knowledge in the district to implement and run such a project”, says Henrik Brændgaard.

More muscle together The joint remote reading project began with coffee meetings in the town Ringkøbing back in 2011-2012, based on the political requirement that all electricity customers should have remote reading by 2020.

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