Stuff.co.nz 14th April, 2014. By CHARLOTTE SQUIRE
A $15 million Network Tasman project to install smart electricity meters in homes and businesses across the Nelson region is set to be rolled out from September.
The meters will measure power use and transmit this information, as well as outages data, direct to Network Tasman’s operations centre via a radio signal.
Advanced metering development manager Andrew Stanton said Network Tasman initially planned to begin installing the new meters this month, but the start date had now been pushed back to September.
Up to 40,000 meters will be installed.
“The rollout will begin slowly, with a few hundred meters being deployed initially. We will then ramp up to 1500 meter installations per month across the region. It’s a complex process, getting the retailer systems geared to work with the contractors,” he said.
Stanton said he wasn’t sure which area would be the first to receive the new meters.
More than one million have been installed in other parts of the country.
Network Tasman chief executive Wayne Mackey said there would be many benefits from switching to the advanced meters. There would be no need for meter readers to access land or buildings to take readings.
There would also be improved management of power outages, he said.
“If you lose power, the meter sends a message back to central office, alerting Network Tasman of the outage.
“In the future, they will also have in-house displays, so you can see what’s happening with your power supply. They can be linked to computers and smartphones.”
Stanton said one key benefit from knowing when customers had lost power was that Network Tasman could “get our faultman rolling” rather than waiting for customers to make contact.
Mackey said the advanced meters had proven useful in Christchurch during the earthquakes, when the local power company knew immediately which households had lost power. They were also proving useful during emergencies and storms.
Some consumers have raised concerns about the new technology.
Golden Bay artist Sarah Hornibrook said she had concerns about the health and privacy implications of the new meters, especially after watching the film Take Back Your Power, by Josh del Sol. She said the issue was “far-reaching and complex”.