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Tech.To Benefit Meridian Energy Pre-Pay Customers

Media Release For immediate release: Thursday, 20 May 2004

INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGY SET TO BENEFIT MERIDIAN ENERGY PRE-PAY CUSTOMERS

Meridian Energy's pre-pay customers are set to reap new benefits from innovative technology the company is currently trialling in Christchurch.

New E-Smart meters are eventually expected to replace the Power Manager units currently used by Meridian's pre-pay customers.

Developed by Christchurch company ARC Innovations, the E-Smart units provide more functions than Power Managers.

"The new functions will bring a much higher level of service to pre-pay customers," says Alan Seay, Meridian Energy's Principal Communications and External Relations.

"For instance, customers who run out of credit outside business hours can opt to keep their power supply on overnight giving them more time to top up their account."

E-Smart operates in the same way as Power Manager where customers have a card, which they load power credit onto using machines at any one of a number of retail outlets. At home, the card is inserted into the unit and when the credit runs out the customer must return to a retail outlet to buy more.

"E-Smart will offer our customers much more flexibility. Previously, the moment you ran out of power credit, the Power Manager switched off your supply," says Alan Seay.

The new E-Smart display also provides the customer with much more useful information ­ including how many days until their credit runs out, their past consumption history, the current price of electricity and their credit limits.

Other improvements include the option of a warning beep from the E-Smart meter when the credit is low and the ability for messages to appear on the unit's display.

Alan Seay says Meridian has already held internal trials with staff using the machines in their homes and they proved very successful.

"We are now trialling the machines with 130 customers in Christchurch. If these go to plan, we will eventually replace all our old Power Managers with E-Smart meters," says Alan Seay.


[ends]


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