Dublin, Ireland — (METERING.COM) — February 9, 2009 – The recruitment of residential and small-to-medium enterprise (SME) customers to trial the impact of smart meters on customer behavior in Ireland, and the installation of the smart meters, is under way, the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) has reported.

In an Information Paper providing an update on the country’s smart metering project, the CER says that the customer recruitment is on target to meet complete recruitment of all 6,400 customers (approximately 5,500 residential and 900 SME customers) by the end of March. Meter installation will be completed by May.

The vendor consortia selected to participate in phase 1 of the project are Elster and Energy ICT, Trilliant and Iskrameko, PRI and Aclara, and Sagem. Energy efficiency initiatives that will be introduced include time-of-use tariffs and enhanced and more frequent information on electricity usage and costs for customers via billing, web and dynamic display units.

The twelve month trial will take place over 2010 and the findings will be presented in February 2011.

Other progress with the project includes the development of proposals for gas residential and SME customer behavior trials, which are now under review by the CER. The CER says that initial analysis appears to indicate that gas smart meters are only economic when leveraging off an electricity smart metering infrastructure. Hence some trialing of gas smart metering within the smart meter infrastructure selected for phase 1 will be included in the technology trials.

Scoping and planning has been completed for the technology trials. Communication technologies to be trialled are GPRS/3G, PLC, DLC and RF mesh. Discussions are under way between ESB Networks and the vendor consortia to agree detailed installation plans, which could see up to 10,000 smart meters installed. The findings report is due in June 2010.

Scoping and planning has also been completed for the cost benefit analysis. The interim cost benefit analysis will be completed by the end of Q3 2010 and the final cost benefit analysis by the end of Q1 2011.

The project is being managed by a Smart Meter Steering Group and a Smart Meter Work Group. To achieve its objectives the SMWG has been divided into four work streams – networks, customer behavior, tariffs, and billing/data. Both groups are chaired by the CER and consist of representatives from the Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources (DCENR), Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI), the Northern Ireland Authority for Utility Regulation (NIAUR) and Irish gas and electricity industry participants.

Ireland’s smart meter project aims to install smart meters in Irish homes over the next four to five years.