Smart meters can record a lot more information about residential energy consumption than normal ‘accumulation’ meters. They enable energy companies to enhance their service delivery. When they include in-home displays (IHDs), they also allow consumers to monitor and change their behaviour in response to price signals. They are also promoted as a way of reducing overall energy consumption and greenhouse emissions. The Ministerial Council on Energy is investigating whether a mandatory national rollout of smart meters should happen in 2008. The first phase of the inquiry explored what functions smart meters should have; Phase 2 will be a cost-benefit analysis. In its submission to Phase 1 PIAC noted that while IHDs are the most attractive function of smart meters for consumers, the cost of including them appears to outweigh the financial benefits. Without them, the benefits of more sophisticated metering technology flow mostly to electricity companies, although consumers would be expected to pay for the new meters. Subject to the results of Phase 2, PIAC therefore does not currently support a mandated roll-out of smart meters.
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