Genesis Energy, the largest electricity and largest gas supplier in New Zealand, plans to install over 600,000 smart meters for customers over the next several years. Together with other New Zealand energy providers, the country could be blanketed with the energy saving devices before long.
Richard Gordon, spokesman for Genesis, says that once there are more than 20,000 smart meters installed that customers will be able to use variable energy usage rates, based upon the current demand for power. At first, New Zealand power consumers will not be subject directly to market rates that can change every half hour, but it is anticipated that rates will be different for Monday to Friday usage as compared to weekend pricing. Energy prices will further vary according to peak and off-peak usage. Consumers will be able to save money by choosing to use energy-demanding appliances during times of off-peak demand. Over the next three weeks, Genesis Energy hopes to finalize agreements with smart meter suppliers that will take on the large project. No single supplier will handle all of Genesis’ customers.
Adds Gordon: “We have more than 700,000 accounts and we’re looking to bring advanced metering to all accounts in the next few years. We’ll provide accurate monthly meter readings and data to customers on daily, weekly and monthly consumption patterns.” Some of the power conglomerate’s customers have dual accounts for electricity and gas, compounding the complexity of the project for Genesis Energy.
The utility company’s customer tracking system, Gentrack, is undergoing upgrades to compensate the new smart power grid. Genesis is reportedly spending a “few million dollars” on the software upgrades.
Genesis Energy is not purchasing the meters directly; these will be leased from third-party providers.
Other power providers in New Zealand also have big plans to introduce smart meters to their customers and plan to take advantage of variable pricing schemes. One of these is Meridian Energy which has around 200,000 customers. Meridian Energy will depend upon its subsidiary, Arc Innovations, to supply the smart meter technology.
Claire Shaw, spokeswoman for Meridian Energy, commented that the company is “close to offering some really good options on pricing” to their customers once smart meters are installed. These energy consumers will be able to monitor precise energy usage information in their home at a quick glance. These details will also be available online where results can be compared to other households in the community.
Yet another New Zealand utility signed up to supply smart meters for their customers is Mercury Energy. Mercury has around 340,000 customers and hopes to supply them with the devices “in the near future.” Mercury Energy recently completed a successful trial run of smart meters for 5000 of its customers in Auckland. Elster Electricity, based in the United States, is the primary supplier to Mercury for smart meter technology.
Finally, Contact Energy, another New Zealand power provider, already has plans in place to install smart meters for all of its customers in the city of Canterbury by the end of the year. Within the next five years, the utility plans to supply all 500,000 of its customers with the devices.
Smart meters for Contact are provided by a consortium called Advanced Metering Services, a partnership between Vector, a supplier of energy networking technology, and German firm Siemens. Simon Mackenzie, head of Vector, stated his company owns a majority of New Zealand’s traditional energy meters – a total of 800,000. Siemens currently operates in excess of 18 million power meters in Great Britain. Advanced Metering Services is currently in talks with other New Zealand utility companies also.
Additional technology for Advanced Metering Services is supplied by Singapore-based EDMI and Sydney-based Bayard.
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