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Strong interest in smart meter initiative

Media Release
For release Friday August 11 2006

Strong interest in smart meter initiative, says Meridian

State-owned electricity generator and retailer Meridian Energy says there has been strong interest in the new smart electricity meters about to be installed in more than 100,000 Christchurch homes.

Chief Executive Keith Turner says following the recent announcement about the smart meter roll-out customers in other areas have contacted the company to ask for the new meters to be installed in their properties.

In addition, some of Meridian’s competitor retailers have made inquiries about the technology.

“Meridian has upped the ante considerably by this move, and electricity consumers will now have greater expectations about the quality of service they receive. It will be up to all retailers to deliver on those expectations.”

Dr Turner dismissed suggestions that the new meters will somehow act as a barrier to switching, saying just the opposite is true.

“The whole idea of this initiative is to achieve a vastly improved standard of service to customers - and that includes the ability to quickly and easily move between retailers. Just as an example, final meter reads can be carried out remotely, with no need to send out a meter reader to take the read.”

As well as not needing to be physically read by meter readers coming on to a customer’s property, the new meters will also ensure that bills are always based on actual consumption.

“That in itself is a huge step forward from current service levels. With every bill being based on consumption there will be no more of the large variances between a bill based on a meter read and an estimated bill, making household budgeting much easier.”

Further down the track however there is exciting scope for adding new services to customers.

“These smart devices are remarkable; they can provide real-time electricity consumption information to customers – they will enable customers to see how much power they use on a particular day, when their peak times are and eventually, how much power different appliances in their house are using.”

The meters also have the potential to enable people to operate their appliances by remote – that is, they could be sitting in their offices and turning the heaters or dishwasher on at home.

The system will also assist in improving network efficiency by helping manage peak demand periods and communicate customer incentives for reduced demand during peak times.

Dr Turner says the new Smart Meters will enable customers to make better energy efficiency decisions.

“They have the potential to show customers how much power a microwave uses compared to their oven. It also enables them to compare how much electricity they use compared to similar households.”

Dr Turner emphasised that the new meters will be installed at no extra cost to the consumer.

“There have been suggestions that customers will somehow carry the cost of this initiative.

“On the contrary – this metering service is being provided at the same cost as the existing service. There is no price increase to consumers.”

The Smart Meter roll-out in Christchurch is expected to take at least two years to complete.


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