Announcing the opening of the tender process in Queanbeyan, Environment Minister Peter Garrett said this commercial-scale trial was an exciting new chapter for Australia’s energy efficiency network.

“Smart grids provide greater ability to incorporate and distribute renewable energy, save money through cutting-edge ‘self-healing’ technologies, and reduced demand, and empower consumers to manage their energy use.”

“From the power plant to the power point, smart grids enable a two-way flow of information between energy suppliers and consumers,”

“Like an ‘energy internet’, smart grids enable energy to be delivered where and when it is required, improving reliability and reducing losses; the potential economic and environmental benefits are staggering.”

“Early estimates show that if smart grid applications are adopted around Australia they could deliver significant economic and environmental benefits to the Australian economy, including an estimated minimum reduction of 3.5 mega-tonnes of carbon emissions per annum.”

Energy Minister Martin Ferguson said: “this program is a good opportunity to test the costs and benefits of smart grid and smart meter applications before a wider regulated rollout of smart meters in certain jurisdictions in coming years.”

The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, said the Smart Grid, Smart City initiative will help Australia lead a global transformation as energy networks deploy broadband-enabled solutions to drive efficiency.

“The National Broadband Network is intended to enable a whole range of efficiency and productivity gains across the economy, including in the energy sector.”

“This smart grid project is an important start point as we move to ensure Australia gains maximum value from our broadband investments.”

Garrett said he expected to receive quality bids for the funding, with strong interest being shown from the energy and communications sectors.

“We have consulted with industry and community extensively since the Government announced the initiative in July, and it will be exciting to see what their proposals are for Australia’s first smart grid,” Garrett said.

The consortium will be led by an electricity distributor, and membership likely to include be a mix of electricity retailers, product and service suppliers, governments, academic bodies, consumer interest groups and other non-government organizations. Consortia have until late January 2010 to submit their bids.