Dublin, Ireland --- (METERING.COM) --- November 16, 2011 - Ireland’s energy regulator the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) has set out proposals for the rollout of electricity and gas smart meters to homes and businesses across Ireland by 2020.

These proposals, which are now up for consultation, follow the completion of comprehensive customer behavior and technology trials and cost-benefit analyses earlier in the year.

These trials showed that a national rollout of smart meters could lead to a 2.5 percent reduction in overall electricity consumption, 2.9 percent reduction in overall gas consumption, and 8.8 percent reduction in peak time electricity consumption.

The cost-benefit analyses found a net benefit of smart metering up to €229 million over 20 years. The rollout cost is estimated at up to €1 billion.

In the light of these findings, “the CER is minded to decide that a national rollout of electricity and gas smart metering proceeds in Ireland,” the organization says in its consultation.

The CER proposes that electricity and gas smart metering should be rolled out to all residential consumers and to a significant proportion of business consumers, including all business electricity consumers currently with non-interval meters and all business gas consumers currently in the G4 meter category (i.e. up to 6 m3/hr; for users with greater capacity, an alternative AMR solution is proposed). This corresponds to a total of about 2.2 million electricity consumers and 600,000 gas consumers. 

It is proposed that the gas smart metering will leverage the electricity smart metering communications infrastructure, and that time-of-use electricity tariffs will be mandated for all electricity consumers. Further, all electricity consumers will be provided with an in-home display (IHD) device, which for dual fuel consumers will also be capable of displaying gas information, and with “smart” bills containing detailed consumption and cost information.

Prepayment services will also be provided as standard, enabling consumers to automatically switch between prepay and bill pay options.

Other aspects of the proposals include the design and functionality requirements of the electric and gas smart meters, and the wide area network (WAN) and home and area network (HAN) requirements.

The consultation runs until December 13, after which the final decision on the rollout is expected by the end of January 2012. Thereafter, periods of up to two years each are envisaged for phases 2 (planning, requirement definition, procurement and selection) and 3 (detailed design, system testing and pre-deployment rollout). Deployment would follow over the subsequent two to four years, with completion in the 2018-20 timeframe.