Electricity smart meters: first phase of €1.1bn changeover announced

Smart meters will help customers make better choices about their consumption

ESB Networks managing director said the upgrade to modern meters was an important enabler of Ireland’s climate action plan. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

ESB Networks managing director said the upgrade to modern meters was an important enabler of Ireland’s climate action plan. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

The first phase of a €1.1 billion national electricity meter replacement programme to introduce smart meters to homes and businesses was announced by ESB Networks on Wednesday.

The initial €100 million phase will see installation of 250,000 smart meters by the end of 2020. Some 500,000 meters will be installed in each of the four subsequent years.

The programme will upgrade electricity meters to “modern smart-ready technology” as a key part of the drive to combat climate change. It will enable electricity suppliers to offer smart energy services to customers and support switching to a low-carbon electricity system.

Smart meters will help customers make more informed choices about their consumption, provide accurate and regular information on their electricity usage and ensure no more estimated bills. The meters will be installed in households and businesses with no cost to customers.

ESB Networks managing director Paddy Hayes said the upgrade to modern meters was an important enabler of Ireland’s climate action plan. “To tackle climate change, the meter upgrade programme is an essential foundation to maximising the benefit from Ireland’s growing renewable generation capability and supporting the electrification of transport and heat – using clean electricity to displace carbon fuels.”

Working with energy supply companies, ESB Networks plans to deliver this programme over six years, so “all electricity customers can be part of the sustainable energy future”, he confirmed.

Replacing old meters

Commissioner Aoife MacEvilly of the Commission for Regulation of Utilities said the announcement was another step on the journey to enable electricity suppliers to “support the migration to a low-carbon electricity system”.

The initial focus will be on replacing older meters, “and we will give plenty of notice on when we are planning your replacement”, Mr Hayes added.

Once information and communications technology is fully in place in early 2021, energy suppliers will offer a range of services to consumers, according to project director Eoghan Barrett of ESB Networks. This would include a “time-of-use tariff”, allowing customers to avail of cheaper electricity at certain times such as non-peak periods.

The devices have the capacity to measure electricity imports and exports, so if a microgeneration scheme is in place, consumers will be able to feed the grid and receive payments. In addition the “enabling technology” facilitates the operation of a distributed network, where a range of energy sources are available for use, notably renewables, once supporting policies are in place, he added.

ESB Networks has announced three successful tenders under the upgrade. Purchase of meters and supporting technical infrastructure has been awarded to a consortium comprising Siemens Ireland and Kamstrup A/S. Framework installation contracts to support replacement of meters were awarded to TLI Group, KN Network Services (Ire) and MD Electrical Installations, while Three Ireland will provide the ICT network.