*ESB Networks has issued the following statement in the form of Frequently Asked Questions about the plan to replace older mechanical meters with new smart meters.
Smart Meter Replacement Programme
What is a smart meter?
Smart meters are the next generation of electricity meters. Using digital technology, the meters give consumers and suppliers accurate information on energy usage throughout the day. Similar digital meters are being rolled out across Europe and internationally. By 2020 it is expected that over 700 million smart meters will be installed globally.
Why are all meters being replaced?
Smart meters are the next generation electricity meters and will replace older mechanical meters. When fully operational, smart meters will bring benefits to the consumer, the environment and the economy.
With smart meters, there will be no need for estimated bills. Consumers will be able to access the information they need to make more informed choices about their consumption and the best tariff option for them. Accurate information about energy usage across the day will allow consumers manage their bills with greater accuracy.
The environment will benefit because smart metering will encourage energy efficiency and support an increase in renewable power on the electricity system. The upgrade programme will help to cut CO2 emissions and lower Ireland’s costly reliance on fossil fuel imports.
The economy will benefit because using smart meters will help us to more efficiently manage energy flow at times of high demand. They will also enhance competition and improve consumer experience, customer choice and the range of products and services available to customers.
Who will carry out the replacement work?
The meter replacement will be carried out by ESB Networks or by a company working on behalf of ESB Networks.
When will the replacement programme be completed?
Starting in the autumn of 2019, our plan is to replace 250,000 meters between autumn 2019 and the end of 2020 and a further 500,000 meters every year from 2021 to 2024.
From 2021, you will have a choice to be provided with more accurate information about energy usage across the day to allow you to better manage your bills with greater accuracy than at present.
What are smart electricity services?
Smart meters can give you accurate and regular information on your electricity usage and ensure no estimated bills. They can help customers make more informed choices about their consumption. They will enable new ways to save money by shifting some of your electricity consumption to (off peak) times of the day when energy is cheaper.
How much is this programme costing?
The replacement of over 2 million electricity meters with the next generation electricity meter over a six-year period will cost some €1.2bn.
Like other infrastructure upgrades, the cost of the meter upgrade will be recouped over time in charges paid for use of the electricity network and so there is no up-front charge to have a smart meter installed.
The Commission for Regulation of Utilities has done extensive analysis of the plan and is satisfied that the investment involved represents value for money .
Smart meters and you
When will I get a smart meter?
The replacement programme will start in autumn 2019 and continue until the end of 2024. We will carry out this work on an area by area basis and a detailed rollout plan is currently being developed.
While the initial focus will be on the oldest meters, we intend to include an option for customers to apply through your electricity supplier or ESB Networks for a prioritised installation of a smart meter.
We will give everyone plenty of notice about when we are coming to your area to replace meters.
Can I request an early meter upgrade?
While it is likely that the initial focus will be on the oldest meters that are due for replacement, we intend to include an option for customers to apply to their electricity supplier or ESB Networks for a prioritised installation of a smart meter.
More information on this option will be made available when the roll-out plan is decided.
What benefit will I get from a smart meter?
When smart meters are fully operational, you will have a choice to be provided with more accurate information about energy usage across the day to allow you to better manage your bills with greater accuracy than at present. This information can also help you to make more informed choices about your consumption and tariff.
Currently, your electricity meter is manually read by ESB Networks up to four times per year. Smart meters are able to automatically send your meter readings to ESB Networks. So with smart meters, there will be no need for estimated bills.
We anticipate that by 2021, new products and services will enable you to shift some of your consumption to off peak times of the day when electricity is cheaper.
Do I have to pay for the new meter?
There will be no upfront charge to have a smart meter installed. Like other infrastructure upgrades, the cost of the meter upgrade will be recouped over time in charges paid for use of the electricity network and so there is no up-front charge to have a smart meter installed.
Is my meter data safe?
Yes. Protecting the privacy and security of customer information is core to the replacement programme. There are very clear rules under data protection legislation to protect consumers and ESB Networks and all other stakeholders work closely with the Data Protection Commissioner. ESB Networks complies fully with the requirements of GDPR legislation.
Are the new meters a risk to my health?
ESB Networks have a total commitment to your health and safety. The upgraded smart meters will be safe and will comply with all necessary requirements and international standards.
Health authorities around the world, including the World Health Organization (WHO), have assessed the scientific evidence and there are no established health effects from smart meters which use similar technology to that used in your mobile phone.
Do I have to take a meter?
We are commencing a meter upgrade program which will see 2.4 million meters upgraded to modern smart ready meters. This upgrade will enable the development of new smart services which will bring benefits to the customer, economy and the environment.
It’s important to note that if you don’t have a smart meter you will not be able to avail of any new services and tariffs.
When the roll out commences smart ready meters will also be installed in all newly constructed premises and where faulty meters need replacement. Meters are replaced regularly to ensure that ESB Networks continues to deliver a safe, secure and reliable service.
Where a customer does not wish to receive a meter upgrade in the first instance ESB Networks will engage with the customer to understand their issues and to provide reassurance.
If a customer still does not want a meter upgrade at that time ESB Networks will not proceed with the immediate replacement but will engage with the customer at a later date as the roll out continues and the benefits of the new services are better understood.
As the programme proceeds the CRU will monitor the impact and additional cost of servicing old meters which have not been replaced.
How frequently will my meter be read after I get my smart electricity meter?
There will be no change in how meters are read until 2021, they will continue to be read by meter readers at least 4 times per year.
From 2021 ESB Networks will have the ability to remotely read all upgraded meters, while the detail is currently being worked out we expect to read meters once a day at around midnight. All data collected from your smart electricity meter will be fully compliant with GDPR requirements. Remote reading will remove the need to estimate bills which will benefit you as a consumer.
What data will leave my home after I get my smart electricity meter?
From 2021 ESB Networks will have the ability to remotely read all upgraded meters, while the detail is currently being worked out we expect to read meters once a day at around midnight, all consumption data collected from your smart electricity meter will be fully compliant with GDPR requirements. Remote reading will remove the need to estimate bills which will benefit you as a consumer.
In addition to energy consumption data we will collect data relating to the condition of the meter, while the detail is currently being worked all data collected from your smart electricity meter will be fully compliant with GDPR requirements.