Wellington, New Zealand --- (METERING.COM) --- July 5, 2007 - A consultation on advanced metering systems in New Zealand has been launched by the country’s electricity market overseer, the Electricity Commission, with the view to developing a set of advisory guidelines for the introduction of advanced metering systems into New Zealand.

AMR and AMI systems are being considered for mass deployment at a time when New Zealand (and the world generally) is increasingly focused on energy matters, says the Commission. Pressures to use energy more efficiently and to substantially increase the proportion of electricity supplied from renewable sources means the electricity sector must support wider energy objectives by maximising the benefits these new advanced metering systems can bring.

The advent of AMR metering in New Zealand will enable more flexible electricity pricing, and the introduction of AMI will enable innovative product development and the potential for consumers to exercise greater control over their electricity usage and costs. This will permit the introduction of more innovative options combining time-variable, stepped and critical peak pricing arrangements providing clear and possibly dynamic financial signals to consumers.

Currently the metering employed in the vast majority of installations in New Zealand uses stand-alone single or three phase meters which are interrogated manually on site, and most low voltage consumers pay the same flat rate for each unit of electricity they use. Thus consumers see no incentive to use less electricity when the cost of production is high, generation capacity is unavailable, or transmission or distribution networks are capacity constrained.

Moreover the current metering stock is ageing and to ensure certificated compliance with the Rules will necessitate the replacement of a large proportion of this stock over the next few years.

The Commission states that the nature and structure of the first advanced metering infrastructures installed are very likely to shape the nature and success of the systems that follow. Both operational capabilities and the business models under which these new infrastructures are deployed are seen as critical to the long term success of advanced metering adoption in New Zealand.

The Commission also notes that advanced metering systems by themselves will be of little value unless they give rise to material beneficial changes in the way electricity is generated, delivered, and consumed. In order to achieve the desired outcomes advanced metering systems installed in New Zealand should share certain common characteristics, such as:
● Open operation
● Established standards for communications
● Relevant feature flexibility
● Wider localised load control capability
● Consumer information availability, and
● Metering information availability.

Developments in new metering technology are moving rapidly, and systems with advanced features are becoming increasingly available. As electricity industry participants consider making investments in these new metering infrastructures, attention must be given to supporting New Zealand’s wider national energy objectives and customer interests, along with those of the electricity sector, states the Commission.

“Well designed and deployed advanced metering systems will help underpin New Zealand’s wider national objectives of creating a reliable and resilient electricity industry that is environmentally responsible and delivers energy prices that are efficient, fair, and competitive.”