Smart electricity meter on a house wall with ESB Networks logo and CER logo

Smart meters will be rolled out to all Irish electricity customers by 2024

The project will replace 2.3 million meters across Ireland

Today, there’s been some interesting news in the energy market, with the CER announcing the rollout details for the introduction of smart meters into Irish homes and businesses.

What are smart meters and why are they being introduced?

Smart meters are the next generation of electricity meter. Among other things, they allow suppliers to read your meter remotely, which could mean an end to estimated bills.

The meters are being rolled out internationally to replace older, mechanical meters. ESB Networks (ESBN) says there are currently 700,000 meters nearing ‘end of life’ in Ireland, which will get priority, but eventually all 2.3 million meters in the country will be replaced by smart meters.

What are the benefits of smart meters?

According to the CER, the meters will benefit consumers, the economy and the environment.

In terms of the economy and the environment, the idea is that smart meters encourage customers to change their behaviour and start to use energy at non-peak times, which would ease pressure on the national grid.

With regards to the benefits for consumers, the good news is that the meters will allow ESBN and Gas Networks Ireland to collect meter information and communicate with meters remotely.

This should mean an end to estimated bills, which will be a relief to anyone who’s been bamboozled by energy bills in the past.

It also means that energy suppliers can make things like time-of-use tariffs and smart prepayment options available without the need for an additional meter or device in the home.

Smart meters also make much more information readily available to consumers about their energy usage, which should help us all to make more informed choices about our consumption.

And trials from ESBN have also shown that when people know there are cheaper tariff periods, they save up to 5 per cent on their bills, so the smart meters could help us all to save some money, too.

Switch and save up to €258

When will smart meters be rolled out?

The proposed rollout has three phases:

  • The first phase is from 2019 to 2020 and will see ESBN delivering 250,000 smart meters to people or communities who request a smart meter, as well as to premises where meters need to be replaced by ESBN. At the end of this phase, smart services such as time-of-use tariffs, smart bills, access to historical consumption information, etc. will be made available by suppliers.
  • The second phase will go from 2021 to 2022 and will see an additional 1 million meters rolled out. This phase will also bring in additional functionality, along with a new form of smart prepayment in Q4 2022. This will provide consumers with the opportunity to pay up-front for their energy without the need for an additional meter or device in the home.
  • The third phase will be from 2023 to 2024 and a further 1 million meters will be rolled out. Additional functionality will also be made available by ESBN during this phase through a Home Area Network, which will allow consumers to access real-time data on their household energy usage. It will also make gas smart services available to consumers by allowing the electricity meter to pair with the gas meter.

So, it will be another 7 years before this is rolled out to all premises in Ireland - and it’s ‘“customer led”, which means those who request a smart meter will get one before others.

The CER and ESBN are also keen to point out that testing will occur at each phase, allowing them to ensure security with regards to the remote access to meters, in particular.

The smart meters will allow “more cost-effective choices”

Commenting on the announcement of the delivery plan, the CEO of ESBN, Marguerite Sayers, said: “The smart meters should facilitate customers in making more cost-effective choices for their home or business.”

Sayers also said ESBN believes the programme has the potential to make “a significant positive contribution to the low carbon economy in Ireland by reducing waste and maximising the use of renewable energy.”

Commissioner Aoife MacEvilly from the CER says the project is a “once-in-a-generation” undertaking.

She added that staggering the implementation in the suggested way “significantly reduces the technical complexities” associated with delivering smart services to consumers and “introduces a governance/oversight structure which will include regular review and appraisal of progress”.

Save money on your energy bills now

While the smart metering will allow for most cost-effective choices for savvy consumers, the rollout could be a way off for some of us.

In the meantime, if you want to save up to €258 on your energy bills, take a few minutes to compare gas and electricity prices - there are some great discounts available on the market at the moment.

You could also check out other energy saving devices, such as automatic radiator bleeders, which can help you cut down on your energy consumption.

For more information on the smart meter rollout, see the CER’s website.