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Alpine Energy set to launch -wide meter inspection

Fairlie kicks off first-ever comprehensive survey

Alpine Energy set to launch

SC-wide meter inspection

Every electricity meter in every South Canterbury home and business is to be inspected and certified by Alpine Energy in a survey that will take a year.

The comprehensive audit begins in Fairlie on May 9 and will see staff from Alpine Energy’s operations company Netcon visit every consumer in Timaru, Waimate and Mackenzie Districts, between the Rangitata and Waitaki rivers.

May will be spent surveying the Fairlie urban area and inspections will shift to Pleasant Point for the month of June. The Timaru urban area survey will begin in July.

It is the first time such a comprehensive audit has been undertaken region wide.

The project, scheduled to be completed by April 29 next year, is part of the Government’s requirements for meter efficiency compliance, which it says must be completed nationwide by March 31, 2015.

Alpine Energy commercial manager Daniel Roos says inspectors will visit more than 32,000 homes in South Canterbury during the next 12 months in a zone-by-zone approach.

“All category one meters will be inspected and the data collected will be used to ensure a smooth changeover to compliant meters. Category one meters are found in private homes and small businesses; category two in large big-box retail outlets, and category three meters are installed in larger factories and industrial sites. Both single phase and three-phase installations will be covered,” Mr Roos said today.

The company expected that most meters would need to be replaced prior to the March 2015 deadline and the audit would position Alpine Energy for an accurate assessment of future smart meter requirements across South Canterbury.

Smart meters, the installation of which has been supported by the Government although regulations have not been introduced, allow customers to use variable energy usage rates based upon the current demand for power. Rates may be different for Monday-to-Friday usage as compared to weekend pricing. Energy prices will further vary according to peak and off-peak usage. Consumers will be able to save money by choosing to use energy-demanding appliances during times of off-peak demand. That system would replace Rate E and Rate A metering provided by the current “dumb” meters.

Mr Roos said Netcon audit teams will be clearly identified when they knock at the door.

“They will be wearing identification labels and company-branded apparel and each auditor is expected to visit up to 32 homes a day,” he said.

The staff would call at properties in the normal meter-reading manner during the normal working day. They would not be calling at night, Mr Roos said.

“In the event a householder was not home and access to meters could not be established, the assessors would make a return visit after leaving a card that clearly identified them.”

Communications material including newspaper advertisements and radio broadcasts would advise residents when teams were going to be in a particular area. Mr Roos asked that householders and business owners facilitate access to meters to allow the project to be completed with the minimum of disruption.

South Canterbury has a far-flung population base with nearly one in three people living in rural areas, nearly twice the level of the rest of New Zealand. Alpine Energy is keen to ensure the public is well informed and maps showing where teams will be working across the region will published in the Timaru Herald, the South Canterbury Herald, The Courier and on Alpine Energy’s website at www.alpineenergy.co.nz/metersmatter.html.


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