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Past Project in Detail

Energex - analysis of domestic electricity load patterns (pt 1)



Project duration: 1st semester, 2003

Student: Reuben Maguire, QUT B.Electronic Engineering / B.Information Technology


Energex is a government-owned company, responsible for managing sophisticated energy distribution networks and delivering energy products, services and expertise throughout Eastern Australia and New Zealand. Based in S.E. Queensland, Energex has an 80 year operational history and was previously known as the South East Queensland Electricity Board (SEQEB) prior to energy industry deregulation.

Energex has noticed that domestic customer load patterns have changed significantly in the last couple of years. The greater penetration of significant end-use loads such as air conditioning have generally resulted in greater than expected yearly growth in Maximum Demands. Additionally, the distribution system has recently experienced and seems sure to continue experiencing peak summer loads, as opposed to the traditional peak winter loads.

Thus, Bevan Holcombe, Network Strategic Planning Manager, Energex identified this as an area that requires research in order to understand the ways in which customers use electricity and the patterns which model such usage.

This is a large project and needs to be conducted over stages. A CEED project was commissioned in 1st semester 2003, to conduct the first stage of the research.


Reuben Maguire had a number of objectives for his project. They were:

* To propose and develop domestic customer groupings based upon demographic, geographic and socio-economic characteristics.

* To identify and select geographic regions suitable for analysis which correspond at a distribution substation customer base level to the aforementioned customer groupings. In addition, it will be necessary to physically survey the geographic regions in order to confirm network open points and the customer base composition.

* Devise a questionnaire that can be applied to the subject geographic regions in order to better define the highest possible Maximum Demand values for the particular distribution substation

* Provide an instructional framework in which future projects can utilise the results from the application of the aforementioned questionnaire within a particular geographic region in conjunction with information acquired from Maximum Demand Metering at the corresponding distribution substation in order to determine load pattern information for the greater customer grouping

* A desirable, but not essential, objective is concerned with undertaking a study to analyse the variation in After Diversity Maximum Demand (ADMD) curves over time. Such a study would serve to identify any developing trends that would then be useful for future network planning and design consideration.


Reuben employed fundamental research methods that are recognised and utilised throughout the field of electrical engineering. He also learnt from previous research and conference papers on related topics. The research papers described theories and methodologies already developed and used in practical and non-practical situations.

A second major research component was the development of the required questionnaire. This type of research method would not usually be considered as a classical engineering research technique. Therefore, Reuben consulted a number of books on the topic and had several meetings with the QUT Mathematics and Statistical Consultative committee, during the questionnaires development stage. The committee also provided advice throughout the statistical analysis stage of the project, ensuring that the choice of statistical methodology embarked upon was sound and effective.

Lastly, Reuben read many Energex publications and met with his Energex supervisor and many contacts that he developed throughout the company, as a way to access their practical knowledge and experience, for the benefit of the project.


Reuben completed his project a little ahead of schedule, having achieved all the project objectives. He was therefore able to do some additional feasibility studies, in preparation for the next stage of the project (to be conducted via CEED), i.e. availability of Maximum Demand Indicator (MDI) data to calculate After Diversity Maximum Demand (ADMD).

Energex now have:

* A practical and comprehensive classification system that defines a series of domestic customer groupings based on selected geographic, demographic and socio-economic parameters,

* Survey results from geographic regions corresponding to these customer groupings, including customer supply points, network open points and customer base composition information

* A questionnaire which derives the highest possible Maximum Demand value for a distribution substation if a sufficiently high level of customer base penetration is achieved.

* Instructions for configuring Maximum Demand Metering and the application of the questionnaire to geographic regions deemed suitable for analysis.

* Additional result – Reuben was able to conduct some research on ADMD curves at an 11kV feeder level, that may identify trends occurring over time


The long-term benefit of this project to Energex is a better understanding of the ways in which domestic customers use electricity.

This will enable the Network Strategic Planning Department at Energex to make more accurate predictions about future network usage and loading. It will also provide valuable information that will influence maintenance and upgrade planning schedules for parts of the existing distribution network. The benefit for energy consumers will be a more consistent supply of electricity, even at peak demand times of the year.

Bevan Holcombe was very pleased with the outcome of this project, and he was also “very pleased with Reuben’s motivation and attitude”. In addition, Bevan commented that Reuben “is very competent and methodical and produced good quality work”.

The next stage of this project is to be conducted in 2nd semester, 2003.

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