Four companies will vie to impress the ESB Networks with their smart metering technology as the State-owned power company embarks on a pilot project to install the meters in up to 21,000 Irish homes.
French telecommunications firm Sagem, Germany's Elster Group and Trilliant and Aclara from the United States are hoping to win the contract to install advanced energy meters in homes across the country by 2013. The pilot phase is expected to last until the end of 2010. Meters from all four companies will be used during the trial. The final roll-out is expected to cost around €1bn.
About 15,000 homes taking part will be assessed purely on the performance of the smart meter technology, while a further 6,000 will be assessed for behavioural use of electricity.
The smart meters will record power usage every 30 minutes and feed the results back to a system that will pinpoint how much energy is being used by customers. Apart from hoping to save customers money by reducing their energy consumption, the data could provide more precise daily energy usage forecasting by power generators.
ESB Networks is to write to 60,000 customers inviting them to take part in the pilot scheme, with about one-third of them receiving the smart meters.