In May 2011, the CER completed a smart meter trial involving approximately 9000 homes and businesses.
The project assessed the performance of available smart metering systems and communication technologies and identified risks, issues, and information relevant to a cost-benefit analysis for a national smart metering rollout. The rollout saw single-phase and three-phase meters communicate over PLC, GPRS and 2.4GHz wireless mesh in various rural and urban locations. Smart-metering-enabled energy efficiency measures were tested for their impact on customer behaviour. Time-of-use tariffs and demand side information management tools such as in-home displays, detailed billing, and an online customer portal were introduced as part of the trial. The project team found that time spent ensuring a“plug-and-play” meter installation process was extremely beneficial, but still saw technical issues in 3% of installations.
The trial was completed in May 2011 and the CER published a report highlighting key learning that will be used to inform future decisions regarding electricity smart metering for residential consumers and SMEs in Ireland. The CER reported an overall reduction of 2.5% in residential electricity demand (8.8% reduction during peak times) and an 82% change in consumption patterns.
The in-home display was especially effective in reducing peak-time consumption, with 91% of residential customers saying it was important. Based on findings from the trial, the CER concluded that smart meters could yield net benefits of up to 174 million over 15 to 20 years taking into account customer bill reductions, efficiency, and environmental benefits. The Programme is now proceeding to the detailed technical specification phase to be followed by procurement in 2014.