Chorus trial helps electricity companies identify power outages faster

A Chorus ONT box
Individual customers will be able to opt out of their fibre boxes providing data. Photo credit: Supplied / Chorus

Energy companies across Aotearoa will be able to identify and restore power outages more quickly this year after a successful Chorus trial.

The telecommunications infrastructure company said its PowerSense proof-of-concept could use a fibre broadband box's 'last-gasp' functionality to notify energy suppliers when there were issues with the line.

'Last-gasp' is a short signal that the Chorus Optical Network Terminal (ONT) in a customer's house can send to indicate disruption to the service and that it has just lost power, the company said.

Similarly, the ONT also communicates a 'first breath' signal when power is restored.

During the trial with electricity lines companies, including Electra in the Kāpiti and Horowhenua districts, Chorus was able to demonstrate that the service could identify locations losing power in near real-time.

The service will launch later this year, with data available to electric line companies "across Chorus' fibre footprint", it said.

Individual customers will be able to opt out of their ONT boxes providing data to the service.

"It's a great example of how we can make further use of the investment that has been made in fibre to deliver greater value to New Zealanders than simply reliable, fast fixed-line broadband," Chorus CEO JB Rousselot said.

The line companies who sign up to the service will gain improved visibility of their network, "leading to quicker restoration and more reliable power delivery", Chorus said.

"We are excited to see innovation thriving through people working together, across industries, to improve the management of low voltage power networks," said Tom Georg, acting general manager market policy at the Electricity Authority. 

"This service will ultimately benefit consumers across New Zealand."

Mike Myhill, the operations manager of Electra Network said the trial period showed improvements in the visibility of their network.

"The Chorus PowerSense data showed outage events happening on our network ten minutes ahead of the first calls coming in," he said.