Electricity smart meters will be installed in Northern Ireland homes by 2020 as announced by energy minister Arlene Foster this week.
The rollout will initially cover electricity customers only, due the number of gas customers being too small (135,000) to be cost effective for gas smart metering.
By 2015 the number of gas customers will increase and the installation of gas smart meters will be reviewed.
“The Northern Ireland Government is serious about changing energy consumption and smart meters are key to shifting consumer behavior,” said Foster. “The (smart meters) will also play a key part in developing a wider smart grid for Northern Ireland in the future.”
According to the smart meter regulatory impact assessment the best case scenario is for smart meters with broadband communication. At a total cost of £221 million with benefits totaling £277.3 million, these would deliver a positive NPV of £56.3 million with total benefits outweighing the costs by approximately 25 percent.Electricity meters with PLC would cost £244.1 million, to deliver an NPV of £33.2 million and a benefit-cost ratio of 1.14.
There are approximately 860,000 electricity customers in Northern Ireland, 7% of these are non-domestic.
Arlene Foster said in a statement that Northern Ireland’s Utility Regulator will consult in due course on the exact nature of the smart meter rollout.