Tom Reeves,
Chairman CER
 
Dublin, Ireland --- (METERING.COM) --- March 20, 2007 –Dublin, Ireland - Following the release of the Ireland government’s White Paper on Energy in which a commitment is made to smart meter rollout, the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) has released a consultation paper on smart metering.

The aim of the paper is to provide customers and participants in the Irish electricity market with an update on the Commission’s work in the area of energy efficiency, and in particular to review the economic case for the introduction of smart metering in Ireland to support time-of-day tariffs for domestic and small business customers.

The paper notes that in the last ten years the demand for electricity in Ireland has grown by 49%, and peak demand by 52%, and consequently one of the foremost options to allow customers to reduce their electricity bills would be the introduction of time-of-use tariffs. In the past the costs of introducing such smart metering for customers that use small volumes of electricity has been prohibitive compared to the potential savings that can achieved by these customers. However, the recent implementation of up to date metering technology for all customers in Italy and Sweden has demonstrated that the cost of introducing such metering may now make economic sense, says the paper.

The Commission says it has carried out a desk-top analysis, which suggests that time-of-day tariffs could allow price responsive customers to achieve savings on their electricity bills, and that these potential savings, depending on the structure of the tariff, may be sufficiently large to be of real benefit to these customers. In addition fuel-poor customers may see a greater benefit than the average customer, as they may be more responsive to price differences.

Based on a preliminary cost benefit analysis the Commission finds that there is the potential to introduce large savings over a fifteen year period following the rollout of smart meters and the introduction of the relevant tariffs. However, the net benefit is such that a more detailed study is required, including assessment of the options for recovery of the costs of purchasing, installing and operating the smart meters, given that these costs will be higher than the benefits provided in the early years.

The Commission says that in principle it is in favor of introducing smart metering for all customers in Ireland, provided that the savings either outweigh or are relatively close to covering costs, and that it will work with ESB Networks and Customer Supply and other parties to refine the cost benefit analysis and to develop a plan for a pilot project.

The Commission also notes that it is considering the case for installing smart meters, ahead of the decision on a general smart meter rollout, at the premises of customers who have micro-generation and who may wish to export their excess electricity to the grid. This will be to assess the market benefit of micro-generation in Ireland.

Related Link: Smart meters coming to Ireland