The electricity customer behaviour live trials have been started in Ireland’s national Smart Metering Project.

The customer behaviour trial is regarded as one of the most important aspects of the project as it will provide insight as to likely future demand, as well as consumer reaction to the new smart electricity meters.

So far meters using three types of technology have been installed in almost 6,400 homes around the country – Elster AS230 meters with GPRS communication, Iskraemeco meters with RF wireless LAN and IT systems from Trilliant, and Sagem meters with power line carrier-based LAN.

In the trial, participants will receive dynamic display units with frequent pricing signals and billing displays, smart web applications where they can check consumption and view detailed information, smart billing with information on costs and use by appliance, and financial incentives to reach electricity reduction targets.

Customer behaviour around these measures will be monitored, with the trial continuing until the end of December 2010.

A gas customer behaviour trial is also getting under way, involving 1,925 residential consumers, with the benchmarking data collection period started on 1 December 2009 and the trial due to start in May 2010. Approximately 50 small and medium business customers will also be trialled, for which recruitment is expected to be started shortly.

A small prepayment trial is also planned during 2010. The findings from the trials will be presented early in 2011 and the final cost-benefit analysis for smart electricity metering will be completed by the end of Q1 2011, with the gas addendum due by the end of the following quarter.

www.cer.ie