Your options if your electricity retailer sends you a notice to say it plans to install a smart meter
If your electricity company plans to install a smart meter, it will usually send a notice first. (However, I have also received reports of smart meters being installed without notification, so for this reason many people put a lock and sign on their meter box and email their company refusing a smart meter (as described below) as a precaution.)
This post discusses some of the options available to you if you do not want a smart meter. Please note that I am not a lawyer so none of this post should be misconstrued as legal advice.
In NZ, there is no law or regulation that states that you have to accept a smart meter.
However, the regulations governing the electricity industry mean that meters do need to be certified (or have an exemption from being certified).
As many older meters have reached the end of their certification, companies in the electricity industry are using this fact as an opportunity to install smart meters as replacements.
If your home reasonably new (or has been rewired relatively recently or had its meter recently changed) it is possible your existing meter may comply with the regulations.
Please read this link to see whether your existing meter may still be certified: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/government-and-electricity-industry-positions/april-1-deadline-for-electricity-meter-certification/
If your meter’s certification is valid you have very good grounds for refusing smart meter, in my opinion. (Please note that I am not a lawyer.)
Some companies have it in their Terms and Conditions that you much accept a meter “upgrade”.
You may need to read your company’s T&Cs to see what your electricity retailer’s policy is.
Some companies T&Cs state that the T&Cs may be renegotiated. If this is the case, even if a company’s standard T&Cs include installing a smart meter it may be possible to negotiate with the company for an alternative to a smart meter.
As a general rule, people in NZ who do not want a smart meter have been taking the following steps:
1) Putting a lock on their meter box to prevent a smart meter from being installed without their permission. (You may need to ensure that the meter can still be read by putting in a perspex window or making an alternative meter reading arrangement. You may also want to check your company’s T&Cs as locking your meter box may put you in violation of your retailer’s T&Cs.)
2) Putting a sign like the one at the link below on the meter box to indicate to any technician who may call that a smart meter is not wanted. (This is a good precaution even if your electricity company has agreed not to install a smart meter in case of communications problems between electricity retailers and technicians means that your home is not removed from the installation list.) www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/New-notice-for-meter-boxes-February-20151.docx
3) Beginning negotiations with their electricity retailer to see whether their retailer will agree not to install a smart meter.
A lot of people have been using this letter as a template for smart meter refusal: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/retired-nurse-prevents-counties-power-smart-meter-installation/
Some electricity retailers simply refuse to consider any alternative to a smart meter and in this case, if you do not want a smart meter you may have no option but to change companies. (There is information at this link http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/how-to-get-rid-of-a-smart-meter/ to help you do this if necessary.)
Some companies will offer to install the meter with its modem and any ZigBee (or “communications unit” or “comms unit” or “transmission chip”) removed (This is an option with some, but not all brands and models of smart meter on the NZ market.)
If you are interested in this option, please read 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/
If you are offered any other alternative meter to a smart meter, you can email brand name and model to http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/contact-us/ and I may be able to give you some information about it.
NB: If you are interested in the smart meter issue, please sign up to the email list at www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz for updates.