The Smart Meter Upgrade is a meter replacement programme which will result in the upgrade of over 2 million meters to modern, smart-ready technology. These new generation electricity meters are being rolled out across Europe and internationally and when the programme completes in Ireland in 2024 all domestic and business premises will have a new modern meter installed. The upgrade to smart meters will encourage energy efficiency, support an increase in renewable power on the energy system, and result in lower overall costs for consumers. The installation of smart meters is a key enabler for the energy transition to a decarbonised system as outlined in the Government's Climate Action Plan.
There will be no need for estimated bills with smart meters. Accurate energy usage information across the day will enable consumers to be more efficient in their use of electricity and save money (e.g. by using appliances off peak). This will, in turn, reduce the need for less efficient and more costly generation at peak times and support the increase in renewable power on the electricity system.
The programme is being coordinated by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities with ESB Networks responsible for rolling out smart-ready electricity meters and Gas Networks Ireland responsible for the installation of smart-ready gas meters.
A customer who does not want an upgraded meter will be able to decline to have this new meter installed. However, the intention is that the default position will be for the installation of a smart meter for newly constructed dwellings and other premises or where meters are due for replacement at the end of their life. Under its licence ESB Networks is required to have in place a code of practice covering persons visiting land and/or premises on behalf of the licensee and a Complaints Handling Procedure which applies in the event that an issue arises.
The rollout plan is scheduled to replace 250,000 electricity meters between autumn 2019 and the end of 2020 and a further 500,000 meters every year from 2021 to 2024. On 2 September 2019 ESB Networks commenced the replacement of over 2 million electricity meters with new smart-ready meters. I have been informed that as of 30 September 2,000 electricity meters have been installed.