Smart metering marks a new development on the path towards greater consumer empowerment in the electricity supply and gas supply markets by allowing consumers to monitor their energy consumption in real time, thereby providing them with greater control over their energy bills. The National Smart Metering Programme is a central component of the Government’s strategy to enhance management of energy demand, deliver smart networks and enable greater energy efficiency. It is also aligned with EU obligations on Member States under the Energy Efficiency Directive to progress smart metering. The national roll-out of Smart Meters has been assigned to the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER). A major programme of technology and user trials showed that a national rollout of Smart Meters could lead to reductions in overall electricity and gas consumption, as well as an 8.8% reduction in peak-time electricity consumption. Following the successful completion of these trials by the CER a decision to proceed to the design of the National Smart Metering Programme was taken in 2012. Subject to completion of the design work, which is currently underway, the building and testing of the smart meters infrastructure and confirmation that the programme continues to be justified on cost/benefit grounds, it is expected that smart meters will be rolled out nationally between 2016 and 2019.
The rollout of the National Smart Metering Programme will require legal underpinning. This will be facilitated either by way of the Energy (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Smart Metering) Bill 2014 or, as an alternative, by transposition of the Energy Efficiency Directive. If the legal basis can be incorporated in the transposition of the Energy Efficiency Directive, this would remove the need for a separate piece of primary legislation. The optimal legal approach is currently under consideration by my Department in consultation with the Attorney General’s Office.
One of the objectives of the National Smart Metering Programme is to support renewable energy and facilitate wider take up of micro-generation. To this end, the design of the National Smart Metering Programme will cater for micro generation metering data. However, the offering of a tariff for micro-generation is a commercial decision for electricity suppliers.