I propose to take Question Nos. 10 and 38 together.
The roll-out of the national smart metering programme is progressing in line with the commitment in the Government's energy policy framework and in the programme for Government. The smart metering programme is a central component of the strategy to radically enhance management of energy demand and to deliver greater energy efficiency through the use of cutting-edge technology.
This is a highly complex technology project. The trials are essential to ensure the optimum and most cost-effective technology and systems are identified for the implementation phase. The electricity element of the pilot phase is expected to be completed at the end of December 2010. It is important to have a trial that captures seasonal changes in usage for peak demand management purposes. The outcome should be a fully informed decision on the most suitable model of smart meter-IT system, tariffing structure, communications system and demand stimuli. The model must have the proven capability to deliver the anticipated benefits of smart metering, taking account of the specifics of the Irish energy system.
The pilot phase encompasses two strands. The technology trial is testing a number of advanced metering systems and their associated IT and communications infrastructure. The customer behaviour trial will determine the potential of smart meters to achieve measurable change in consumer behaviour. The technology trial will examine metering functionality and supporting information and communications systems. This trial will involve the installation of up to 8,000 meters. Installation of the first 2,000 meters for technology testing is due to begin next month.
The 6,000 participants for the customer behaviour trial have been selected to ensure the sample is representative of Ireland's electricity consumers both in terms of usage profiles and geographical spread. Installation of meters for this trial is almost complete with 5,364 residential and 595 SME meters installed at 8 June.
Given the advanced stage of work under way to put in place the systems needed for the pilot, it will not be possible to include the new residential BGE electricity customers in the customer behaviour trial. BGE is involved in the SME element of the trial and will be able to avail of the findings of the residential electricity customer behaviour trial. The specifications of these metering systems will allow the testing of a range of functions to deliver enhanced demand management. These include interval metering reading, time of use tariffing and the use of in-home display devices. They will also provide reliable quality data on actual energy use which will lead to significantly better services to consumers. These include improved fault monitoring and outage recording, power quality monitoring, reduced theft and losses and improved network planning.
The gas element of the smart metering programme is also moving ahead. Over 1,900 customers are expected to participate in gas customer behaviour trials. A further 750 meters will be installed to facilitate the gas technology trials. Customers for the gas customer behaviour trial will be recruited by the end of July 2009. The trial period will begin in June 2010 and will continue until May 2011.
The estimated cost of the pilot is €34.9 million. This comprises €29.9 million for the electricity element and €5 million for the gas element. The cost of a national roll-out will be determined on foot of the results of the pilot programme and decisions taken on the optimum type of cost effective smart metering system that will deliver the level of functionality required in an Irish market.
A key component of the pilot phase is the associated cost-benefit analysis which is under way and which will critically inform future decisions. An interim analysis will be completed next year with the final analysis, to include the results of the gas trials, to be completed by mid-2011.