Smart meters are ‘Ireland’s future’

Smart meters are the future for gas and electricity use in Ireland and it is a question of when - not whether - the technology will be rolled out, a leading energy expert has said.

Cathy Mannion, director of Electricity Networks and Retail Division at the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER), said the first batch of meters in a pilot scheme are set to be installed in July to test the effectiveness of the technology.

About 25,000 of the advanced meters, which will be able to feed information about energy use directly to power companies and consumers, will eventually be installed for the pilot.

Ms Mannion said there were many potential benefits of switching to the meters, including reducing customer complaints about estimated billing, eliminating theft and increasing retail competition.

They are also expected to reduce energy use. In the last decade, demand for electricity in Ireland has risen by 49% overall, and by 52% at peak times.

Ms Mannion said: “We acknowledge that smart meters are the wave of the future. I suppose the question comes down to not whether we take up smart metering, but when will we take it up?”

It is hoped that the trial, which will begin producing data for suppliers by the end of this year, will clear up a number of unresolved issues about the capabilities of smart meters

Ms Mannion said: “There are no well-tried solutions so we have to try a few technologies and see what works.

“The need for smart metering technology only gets stronger over time and we think it is the right time to begin now.”

She emphasised that CER does not want the technology to be used by suppliers to easily cut off customers if they fail to pay bills.

Kate Martin

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