Customer choice is key to the success of the Government’s Smart Metering Programme, a Fine Gael Senator has said. The matter was raised in the Seanad today by Senator Garret Ahearn who said the Smart Metering Programme must deliver the best value for money in the pursuit of energy efficiency.
Senator Ahearn said, “The Programme for Government commits to the continued rollout of electricity smart metering technology which began in 2019. The aim is to have install a smart meter in all domestic and business premises in Ireland.
“The key benefit of the Programme outlined in a cost benefit analysis commissioned by The Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) and published in 2017, is based on the assumption that customers will shift their consumption from peak times through the imposition of a Time of Use (ToU) tariff.
“However, the ESRI’s Behavioural Research Unit conducted a study in collaboration with the CRU which found consumers are reluctant to choose the new Time of Use tariffs.
“Despite this evidence, the CRU is continuing to mandate that all electricity suppliers provide customers with a least one Time of Use Tariff and must ‘take reasonable and effective steps to migrate all relevant residential and smaller business customers to an appropriate time of use tariff in a timely manner’, ultimately removing customer choice in relation to flat rate tariffs.
“As Seanad spokesperson for Enterprise & Trade, I am concerned that small businesses must pay more for peak electricity usage, particularly during the pandemic when they have enough challenges to cope with. I also want to ensure that the National Smart Metering Programme (NSMP) delivers best value for money for the taxpayer in the pursuit of energy efficiency which is so crucial to us reaching our climate action targets. Customer choice is crucial to the success of the Programme and to ensuring that people embrace it fully.
“I believe it is time for an updated cost benefit analysis to ensure we are implementing this Programme in a way that will encourage customers to embrace it, and flat rate tariff options must be part of this analysis.
“I had positive engagement on the Smart Metering Programme in the Seanad today with Minister of State Pippa Hackett. I was assured that Minister Eamon Ryan, who has responsibility for Climate Action, will continue to engage with me on this matter and I look forward to working with him.”