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Hawke's Bay 1st To Get Smart Electricity Meters

Central Hawkes Bay Households First In NZ To Get Smart Electricity Meters

Central Hawkes Bay will become the first region in New Zealand to switch to smart electricity meters when Meridian Energy begins a major installation project shortly.

The new meters, provided by metering solutions company Arc Innovations, use mobile and radio technologies to allow remote reading and remote connections.

Meridian chief executive Keith Turner says the metering pilot project represents a significant step forward for electricity consumers. “Our customers in Central Hawkes Bay will have the confidence of knowing that every monthly bill is based on actual consumption rather than an estimate.”

Currently, most electricity consumers throughout New Zealand have their meters read at two-monthly intervals, with the bill for the intervening month being based on an estimate of consumption. This can lead to wide variations in bills from month to month.

The new technology will also end the inconvenience of meter readers having to enter properties and houses. “For as long as I can remember, getting access to properties and managing keys has been a real headache for consumers and power companies alike. This new remote technology will be the equivalent of a couple of aspirin for everybody.”

Dr Turner says that small scale trials of the new meters over the last few years have proven the technology is effective and reliable. Central Hawkes Bay has been chosen for the country¹s first regional rollout because of its size, geography and the age of its metering stock.

“We knew that many of the meters in the area are more than 40 years old and are coming to the end of their useful lives, so we¹ve made the commitment to introduce the very latest technology.” Dr Turner says that remote meter-reading is just the beginning of new services the smart meters will be able to provide in the future. “This technology allows for greater interactivity between the customer and the retailer, and we want to explore with our customers what sort of services they¹d find valuable.”

Dr Turner says that Meridian Energy will assess the pilot before deciding which region will be next to receive the meters on a mass basis. “This is a major project that we want to get absolutely right for our customers before deciding the next step.”

The first new meters will be installed in houses from late November and it is expected all 6300 customers in the area served by the Central Hawkes Bay lines company will have them in place by the end of 2006.

Each household will be visited by a fully-qualified electrician who will install the new meter, which is housed in the same box as the existing meter. Installation takes about an hour, during which the household power will need to be briefly disconnected.

[ends]

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