The EU’s Third Energy Package stipulates “where roll-out of smart meters is assessed positively, at least 80% of consumers shall be equipped with intelligent metering systems by 2020.” The majority of energy customers in Europe are expected to have an electricity smart meter by 2020 and smart meters are also being rolled out in other parts of the world including the United States, Brazil, India, and China.
In Ireland, the National Smart Metering Programme is managed by the Commission for Energy Regulation. The roll-out will include replacement of electricity meters, by ESB Networks, and gas meters, by Gas Networks Ireland, with new smart meters.
Smart meters are considered safe, having a smart meter in one’s home is on a comparable scale with having WiFi or a baby-monitor. In the delivery of smart meters, ESB Networks, and Gas Networks Ireland are required to ensure that any meters procured would, at a minimum, meet Irish and EU product health and safety legislation and standards, which require manufacturers to ensure that any product placed on the market is safe. The Commission for Energy Regulation will be monitoring this to ensure full compliance.
Regarding right of refusal, I have been informed by the Commission for Energy Regulation that a customer that does not want an upgraded meter will be able to decline to have this new meter installed. However, the intention is that the default for newly constructed dwellings or other premises, or where meters are due for replacement at the end of their life, will be the installation of a smart meter. Over time, every mechanical meter is likely to be replaced with this new generation technology.