The Electricity Authority Requires that Meters Have Valid Certification

As this website has previously stated, the Electricity Authority (EA) requires that companies in the electricity industry make sure that their customers’ meters are certified. (The EA does NOT require companies to install smart meters.) A lot of meters in NZ had their certification expire on April 1, 2015. (See this link for details: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/government-and-electricity-industry-positions/april-1-deadline-for-electricity-meter-certification/

This included about 55% of the “category 1” meters owned by Alpine Energy, a lines company in the South Island according to a document on the EA’s website.

Realising that some of its meters where the certification was expiring were not were not going to be replaced in time to meet the EA deadline, according to this document, Alpine Energy initiated a sampling programme to test its meters’ accuracy.

Some meters were found to be inaccurate but the EA document reports “However, the parties consider the impact is minor.”

To ensure that its meters are compliant in the future, Alpine Energy has made a number of undertakings to the EA, including:

Quoting from the EA document:

“7. Settlement 7.1 Alpine agrees to: (a) take all practicable steps to achieve compliance as fast as possible, preferably by 24 December 2016. To achieve this outcome, Alpine commits to taking the following actions: (i) certifying all non-compliant metering installations regardless of suitability for an AMI meter, by using any compliant meters or moving the metering point where customers are refusing permission to install electronic/AMI meters;
(ii) prioritising the replacement of uncertified metering installations in areas where there is a high concentration of uncertified metering installations;

Quote from the document again:

‘e….If the trader at the metering installation does not arrange reasonable access, and Alpine has made all reasonable efforts to meet the trader’s access requirement, then that metering installation is removed from the counts if Alpine alleges a breach against the trader. This is so Alpine is not penalised for the trader’s failure to arrange access, if the customer refuses access, or for safety issues for which the customer is responsible;

Implications for Consumers

My interpretation (and please note that I am not a lawyer) is that this document is very good news for NZ consumers.

It suggests to me that if you live in the part of the South lsland where Alpine Energy owns the meters you are in a very strong position to refuse a smart meter if one is offered to you. Assuming I have correctly interpreted the text of the settlement agreement there will be NO PENALTY for Alpine Energy if any meters that it owns remains out of certification because its customers refuse to have a smart meter installed.

Moreover, under the circumstances, Alpine may agree to install an “analogue” meter instead of a smart meter. (NB: A true electromechanical analogue meter is called a Ferraris meter meter). Some companies in NZ have been describing a variety of electronic meters as “analogue” meters. (If you clarify that a Ferraris meter is the type of meter that you want, you may be told that Ferraris meters are not available; if this is the case you could offer to buy one and have Contact Energy’s technician fit it for you. There are certified Ferraris meters on the NZ market and they cost around $100.)

it is possible that you may be offered a smart meter without its transmission modem and you can read about this option at this link: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/government-and-electricity-industry-positions/comparing-analogue-ferraris-meters-with-smart-meters-which-have-had-the-modem-removed/

Alpine Energy’s smart meter roll out is managed by SmnartCo and it looks from an image on the Alpine Energy’s website that the type of meters that Smart Co wants to install on behalf of Alpine Energy is a Landis+Gyr brand smart meter on a mesh network that has been reported to cause unpleasant symptoms and even interfere with the performance of a nearby computer. (See this link for details: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/headaches-disappear-after-comms-device-removed-from-smart-meter/

A Victory for Everyone Involved in the Smart Meter Resistance Movement

I see the EA’s decision not to penalise Alpine Energy (if customers whose meter are owned by Alpine Energy refuse a smart meter) as a victory for everyone who has been helping with the campaign against smart meters. There a large number of New Zealanders who have refused to have a smart meter installed at their homes and businesses. Many people around NZ have also helped on the campaign against smart meters in many other ways, such as by running community screenings of the award-winning smart meter documentary Take Back Your Power, sharing information via Facebook, handing out leaflets at public events etc.

Everyone in NZ who has refused to have a smart meter installed at their home or business because of the potential health, fire, privacy and financial risks of these so-called “smart” meters is helping to make a difference. Thank you, everyone!

The link to the document on the EA website will be added here as soon as the EA website is back online.

if you would like to keep up to date with the smart meter issue in NZ, please sign up to the free email list at www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz Thank you.