New Zealand starts smart meter pilot


3 November 2009 – Meridian is seeking about 1000 Christchurch customers to take part in the pilot of its newly-installed smart meter network in Christchurch as the next step towards developing new electricity products for its customers using the new meters.

Those taking part in the exercise will be given a range of information about their electricity use as a means of gauging how much information customers may need before they are prompted to make changes in the way they use electricity in response. The information will cover their consumption, their choice and use of appliances and their behaviour around their use of electricity.

Meridian spokesman Alan Seay says varying levels of information and different means of communication will be provided to these customers to test how and what degree of interaction will engage customers to make the most of the meters’ capabilities. The information relates to ideas on how customers can best set up their households – through to consumption behaviors that they may be able to change to use power at lower cost periods. "We will track their responses to the information we’re providing them and keep them advised of the savings they’re able to make, and what impact it would have on their bill. Whenever possible we will communicate with these customers online, and we will provide feedback to them as we go through the exercise."

Mr Seay says there are a range of benefits to undertaking the pilot. "We want to involve our customers in the process of designing new electricity products. We want them to share their findings and experiences with us so that together we can design a range of products and pricing options in a way that is practical and provides the most benefits." As well as being involved in helping to shape the electricity market of the future, those taking part in the pilot will be eligible for a draw offering ten packages of free power as prizes. Meridian has installed more than 110,000 smart meters in Christchurch over the past two years; the biggest deployment of advanced electricity metering in the southern hemisphere.