According to the Electricity Authority there are over 1,209,740 smart meters installed in residential homes, which is approximately 70% of all residential connections. This coupled with the smart meters installed for large and small commercial meters, means that New Zealand has a pretty good coverage of smart metering nationally.

The first remote read meters were installed back in 2004 when the NZ electricity market required Time of Use Metering (TOU) to enter into the large commercial market. These were generally restricted to larger customers that could benefit from cheaper time of use pricing products being delivered to NZ by the newly structured Electricity Market. Most of these devices communicated via cellular connection and were initially quite expensive to have installed. Later more cost effective metering solutions became available which in turn made the TOU market more viable to the smaller commercial and industrial customer.

So what exactly is a Smart Meter?

A smart meter is an electronic device that records consumption of energy in intervals of an hour or less and communicates this information at least daily back to your Retailer (Wikipedia). There are largely two types of smart meters systems. The first is AMR (Advanced Meter Reading) and the other is AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure). The AMR is generally a one way device that just reads the meter energy usage, whereas the AMI is a two way device that allows commands to be sent to the meter for multiple purposes that may include time of use, demand response or remote disconnection of service.

What do these smart metering devices bring to the small commercial and residential market?

The key thing here is that the Retailer can get remote readings from sites without H&S issues entering properties. Also can access meter readings when customers move out and move in without sending a meter reader to the site. The AMI platform also allows the Retailer to make disconnection and reconnections without actually going to the site.

This helps the Retailer, but where do the savings to the customer come from?

The additional energy usage information allows the Retailer and Network companies to offer pricing products that incentivises energy use in off-peak periods. This has allowed specialty Retailers like Powershop, Electric Kiwi and Flick Electric to provide innovative pricing products.

Looking at customer networks, how many AMR or AMI companies are operating in NZ?

There are several private and public companies that offer remote read options for commercial and residential sites. They each have their strengths, weaknesses and each have different cost structures that need to be considered before choosing the best option for a particular application.

Smart Power have experience in assessing all of these options and coming up with a solution that best suits the business owner's requirements. If you have a particular application or are considering a remote read option give us a call. Our team are only too willing to talk through your requirements and recommend a particular product that would most suit you.