Utility bills set to increase to pay for smart meters

The project is being rolled out to replace and update old meters

Utility bills set to increase to pay for smart meters

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Updated: 10.55

Smart meters to measure electricity and gas are to be rolled out across the country.

The project is set to replace and update old meters currently being used by homes and businesses.

Bills will increase by about a €5.50 a year to fund the project over 20 years.

The charge will be added to a customer's network fee each year.

Smart meters will replace the traditional electricity and gas meters - removing the need for a home visit to read the meter.

The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) says this will eliminate the need to use estimates whenever a meter cannot be read.

The meters will communicate with energy providers giving a view of actual energy usage.

The rollout is set to begin in 2019.

The CER says a phased approach will see an initial delivery of 250,000, while 500,000 meters will be installed in each of the four subsequent years.

The first phase (2019-2020) will see 250,000 smart meters being installed to those who request a smart meter and those meters which require replacement.

The second phase (2021-2022) will see an additional one million meters rolled out.

And the third phase (2023 -2024) will see a further one million meters will be rolled following a review.

'€220m benefit'

Commissioner Aoife MacEvilly said: "This is a once-in-a-generation, major infrastructure project.

"As a significant number of existing meters require replacement, Ireland has a unique opportunity to upgrade the meters and systems.

"What we are doing, on a phased basis, is rolling out the next generation of energy meters which can bring benefits to the consumer, economy and environment.

"The phased approach is designed to be consumer-led and enables us to learn and improve as we go."

ESB Networks CEO Marguerite Sayers added: "These meters will allow customers to access detailed energy information if they wish to use it.

"It will be a very large-scale and challenging project, including a national roll-out of new meters, a new metering communications system and very significant IT changes."

The delivery plan will be the responsibility of ESB Networks and will be subject to oversight by a Steering Group which will include CER, the Department for Communications and the ESB.

Trials from November 2011 showed that smart meters could lead to a 2.9% reduction in overall gas consumption, a 2.5% reduction in electricity consumption and an 8.8% drop in peak-time electricity usage.

"A national roll-out of Smart meters will therefore lead to lower customer bills, greater customer information and choice, lower CO2 emissions and environmental benefits for Ireland", the CER said.

"Smart meters will provide a net benefit to customers and the country in excess of €220m over 20 years".