New Zealand’s energy and resources minister Gerry Brownlee has confirmed that smart metering in the country will not be extensively regulated.

In announcing his decision Brownlee said he agreed to the recommendations set out by the Electricity Commission in its December 2009 report on a rollout and requirements for smart meters in New Zealand.

In its report the Commission concluded that it is not necessary to extensively regulate the rollout of AMI at this time as the benefits of regulation do not outweigh the costs. However, the Commission felt that some technical aspects of AMI systems should be regulated, including the rules on information exchange protocols and data security, as well as the operation of AMI systems in prepay mode.

The Commission found that there are differences in the New Zealand electricity market compared to other countries, which mean the reasons for regulating smart meters overseas do not apply to New Zealand (including the fact New Zealand already has a functioning ripple control system to manage peak load). Further, the current rollout of smart meters is happening within an acceptable timeframe, and there is a high level of compliance with the current voluntary guidelines, while regulating the rollout could create additional costs for consumers for no additional benefit.

The Commission also concluded that it is premature to require AMI to have a HAN interface at the time of installation now, due to the small size of the metering market in New Zealand and the limited availability of smart appliances, as well as the speed with which HAN-related technology is evolving and the costs to consumers.

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