The Smart Meter Upgrade is a key building block in enabling consumers to participate in the low carbon transition as outlined in the recently published Climate Action Plan. The programme will result in the upgrade of 2.4 million meters to modern, smart-ready technology.
Like all equipment, meters for measuring gas or electricity use require replacement over time and as older brands and models cease to be available, newer technology enables improvements in services and greater efficiencies in meter reading. Smart meters are the next generation electricity meters and will replace older mechanical meters. The question seems to imply a return to mechanical meters that will ultimately be obsolete and no longer available.
When smart meters are fully operational, consumers will have a choice to be provided with more accurate information about energy usage across the day to allow them to better manage bills with greater accuracy than at present. This information can also help consumers to make more informed choices about their electricity consumption and tariff selection.
Currently, electricity meters are manually read by ESB Networks up to four times per year. Smart Meters are able to automatically send meter readings so there will be no need for estimated bills.
New products and services will enable customers to avail of cheaper electricity by managing their energy demand, through the use of night rates or other behavioural signals.
Smart meters will also support the migration to a carbon free electricity network and will support smart grids, the electrification of heat and transport, local renewable generation and microgeneration.
ESB Networks will commence the meter replacement programme in autumn 2019. The plan is to replace 250,000 meters between autumn 2019 and the end of 2020 and a further 500,000 meters every year from 2021 to 2024.