ESB: first of two million smart meters to be fitted by autumn
The first of more than two million smart electricity meters will be in place from the autumn, it has been confirmed.
ESB Networks has said every domestic electricity meter in the State will be replaced, with 250,000 to be fitted in houses and apartments by the end of 2020, and half-a-million annually up to the end of 2024.
The National Smart Metering Programme will mean the end of estimated power bills, as meters will be read remotely, while also helping reduce bills and allowing customers who wish to sell excess power they generate from solar panels or turbines back to the grid. The programme will cost between €1bn and €1.2bn to complete, with the first phase costing €100m.
Customers will pay through network charges levied on electricity bills, amounting to around 45 cents per month, the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU) said.
About 500 million smart meters are installed globally, and 700 million are expected to be in place by 2020. From the end of 2020, customers will be able to access data on their consumption patterns online or through an app, outlining when they use power.
From 2024, an in-home display unit will be provided and suppliers will also be obliged to offer Time of Use tariffs, which reflect customer consumption patterns which will, if availed of, reduce bills.
An analysis from the CRU suggests that demand will fall by almost 3pc because households will be more conscious of their usage.
With Time of Use tariffs, peak consumption could fall by around 8pc, which will avoid the need to generate power at these times, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
All new homes will be fitted with the devices, and they will replace older meters.
To be installed on a regional basis, members of the public who seek the meters will be prioritised.
While customers can refuse to have the meters installed, over time the only meter available will be a smart one.
The CRU said it would review take-up at the end of the programme, while ESB Networks, which is overseeing the project, said it would work to address customer concerns.
"One of the main benefits people will see is we won't be estimating their bills any more," ESB Networks Smart Metering programme manager Eoghan Barrett said.
"We're going to replace all meters over time. We'll try to work with people to help them understand. The meter is safe, the data will be safe, and we will comply with all of our GDPR requirements."
A "couple of hundred" householders had already contacted ESB Networks to see if they could among the first to have the meters fitted, he added.