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Govt short sighted on smart meters

Govt short sighted on smart meters

Meridian Energy's decision to axe its trial in Christchurch of how smart meters can help save power is short-sighted, the Labour Party says.

"But given National's lack of interest in power keeping prices down through energy efficiency measures it hardly comes as a surprise," Labour's Energy Spokesperson Charles Chauvel said.

Meridian had planned to begin a 12-month trial with 1000 of its 112,000 smart meter customers to see whether providing them with information on the times they were using electricity, and how they might change their behaviour to save money, could reduce consumption at peak times.

“Unfortunately, the trial has been postponed, with Meridian citing ‘other retail priorities’.

“This disappointing decision shows the Government’s lack of leadership in promoting efficient energy use.

"This trial was an excellent opportunity to show how household electricity users could use a combination of smart metering and variable power tariffs to take much more control of the costs of their day-to-day energy use.

“It would have demonstrated the value of smart metering and helped establish a case for the Government to set a smart metering standard for appliance manufacturers.

"Giving consumers control was a key aspect of the business case for rolling out smart metering. But nothing further useful can happen without three things,” Charles Chauvel said.

“First, customers, rather than the electricity retailer, need to be able to see how much energy they are using at any given time. Secondly, retailers need to offer different prices at different times to allow customers to use electricity when it is cheaper. And thirdly, appliances need to be programmable to communicate with smart meters.

"Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee’s refusal, despite independent advice, to designate Zigby as the smart metering standard in New Zealand, was a big setback to encouraging truly smart metering here. Meridian's decision is evidence of that, and is a further setback for efficient and cheaper power use in New Zealand homes,” Charles Chauvel said.


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