What the Electricity Authority’s settlement with Contact regarding its uncertified meters means for consumers in NZ

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 some meters owned by Contact Energy, 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, Contact initiated a sampling programme to test its meters’ accuracy.

Quoting from the EA document:

The results of the statistical sampling showed the vast majority of these meters are within the prescribed variance. However, the results also showed a bias towards running slowly during times of low load, with only a few meters marginally outside the level of tolerance for meters running fast. When tested at high load the sample results appeared more accurate.”

(This is good news for consumers, in my opinion, as it shows that most older meters owned by Contact Energy are reasonably accurate.)

Among other undertakings, Contact has agreed to fix its problem with meters having had their certification expire by doing the following:

“7.1 a (i) certifying all non-compliant ICPs regardless of suitability for an AMI meter, including sourcing small form factor meters and relays for use where an AMI meter will not physically fit or using “analogue” meters or moving the metering point where customers are refusing permission to install electronic/AMI meters;

“7.1 d If the trader at the metering installation does not arrange reasonable access, and Contact has made all reasonable efforts to meet the trader’s access requirement, then that metering installation is removed from the counts if Contact alleges a breach against the trader. This is so Contact 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 are a customer of Contact Energy or the meter at your home or business is owned by Contact Energy, you can refuse to get 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 Contact if any meters that it owns remains out of certification because its customers refuse to have a smart meter installed.

NB: If you do not know what company owns the meter at your home you can ask your electricity retailer or email the Electricity Authority (include your ICP number and address) if you email the EA and ask what company owns the meter.

Moreover, under the circumstances, Contact Energy may agree to install an “analogue” meter instead of a smart meter. (A true electromechanic 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/

A Victory for Everyone Involved in the Smart Meter Resistance Movement

I see the EA’s decision not to penalise Contact Energy if its customers (or customers whose meters are owned by Contact Emnergy) refuse a smart meter as a victory for everyone who has been helping with the campaign against smart meters.

Every New Zealander who has refused to have a smart meter installed at their home or business (and I know that there are a lot of us out there) because of the potential health, fire, privacy and financial risks of these so-called “smart” meters is helping to make a difference.

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

Removal of “sim card” by power company

Hi Katherine,

 

Got my meter changed today by Contact. After waiting a few weeks for Mercury to finally confirm that they wouldn’t do anything, we changed to Contact. On Friday I requested them to change the meter. They said they would come and remove the sim card. Today (Monday) a contractor came and actually changed the meter to another sort. It looks like an analog meter – has a square that they can point a reader at but I was assured it is nothing to do with a smart meter.

 

So we had a Metrix “smart” meter. The man today said it was the sort that sent radio waves, rather than using cell phone technology. It sent radio messages to the next similar meter which then transfers it on etc.

 

It has been replaced with a ISKRA Metrix meter Class 2 with an analogue display. It’s a second hand model – they reuse the meter they took away. He said it is registered for use for the next 15 years. The man said it wasn’t really an analogue meter – I’m not sure what’s different about it.

 

Anyway, I’m happy.

 

My daughter also had the sim card removed from her meter the other week. She wasn’t home at the time when it was done. She has since found out that her neighbour’s meter is still a “smart meter” and it is also in the same meter box which is on her child’s bedroom wall so she is not happy about that.

 

So I’d  encourage people to try Contact. It seems like the different companies all use different meters which are incompatible with each other. Contact was the only company that was friendly about the change – they charge about $125 for the change but it was worth it. The man was here for about 1/2 hour and I did get another meter. And he explained what the different meters do.

 

[Name supplied]