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Sunday 25 August 2019

Customers face higher ESB bills over meter fault

ESB Networks said there is no issue in traditional rotating-disc meters.
ESB Networks said there is no issue in traditional rotating-disc meters.
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

About 27,000 electricity meters in homes are being replaced amid concerns that customers have been overcharged.

ESB Networks confirmed the recall of suspect digital or electronic systems, mostly fitted since 2007, which over-record energy usage.

The energy company has insisted there is no safety risk.

Letters have been sent to every household affected and the manufacturer of the meters estimated that about 17,000 were made with a specific component and about 10pc of those fail tests.

ESB Networks said there is no issue in traditional rotating-disc meters.

"As such, this issue only affects 0.01pc of our overall meter volume (2.3 million). The meters in question are a digital or electronic meter and not the traditional 'rotating-disc' meter," a spokesperson said.

"This failure, according to the manufacturer, causes the meter to over-record for a short period of time and then the meter stops working entirely.

"This does not interfere with the supply of electricity," the company said. "ESB Networks would like to assure all affected customers that there is no safety risk with the failure of this component."

"The meter typically over-records and then fails. It's important to note that customers won't lose their supply, the meter just stops reading and there's no safety issue at all," ESB Networks spokesperson Bernadine Maloney said.

Replacement meters will be supplied and fitted in the next few months.

Tests will be run on the suspect devices and ESB Networks will offer refunds where appropriate if any inaccuracies are found.

"ESB Networks apologises to all affected customers that this problem has arisen with one of our metering suppliers," the company said.

Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow and East Carlow John Brady said it is believed the meters were installed from 2007 in apartment blocks.

"These meters are giving a faulty reading due to creeping where the reading is above the actual electricity consumption used," he said.

"This is, therefore, charging customers incorrectly, at a higher amount than they should be paying."

He said that he has asked Communications Minister Denis Naughten to ensure that a procedure for repayments is put in place as swiftly as possible.

Irish Independent

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