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Energy Supply - Replacement Meters

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Energy Supply - Replacement Meters

Posted 03 Sep '09 02:29 AM

Old meters being Replaced:

Had to arrive, the letter from Genesis to say our old meter was scheduled for upgrade to their new advanced meter; thus we will say good by to estimated bills and visits from meter readers and we wont be charged for the upgrade.

I rang them and queried if their meters were HAN compatible, after being passed around between different people, answer = don't know. I said I will possibly be changing providers later this year when I install 3KW of PV, asked if their meters were compatible with other providers..... um um don't know, perhaps we will cancel your upgrade. Was advised the old meters were not that accurate which was one of the reasons for being replaced.

What a pathetic situation, govt energy companies running ram-shod over one another, installing incompatible metering.

Who is the big looser......... us the consumer of course. What is the minister doing about it, well nothing as usual.


Re: Energy Supply - Replacement Meters

Posted 03 Sep '09 10:00 AM

I over-heard one industry insider suggesting that some of the SOEs tried to get an agreement of communication protocols to ensure fuller 'interoperability' of 'smart' metering systems. But the southern focused SOE didn't want to play so their 'smart' meters are not using the same communication protocols as the two northern focussed SOEs. It's no point hassling the call centre staff though as they won't know and perhaps are deliberately not being told so that they don't (or can't) say too much to put their company in a bad light.


Re: Energy Supply - Replacement Meters

Posted 03 Sep '09 11:47 AM

Call centre staff are unlikely to ever know the details to the extent that will satisfy people in this forum - I suspect they get a hard enough time already. "Hello, nice to meet you, what do you do for a living? Oh, I work at power company X" - I feel a Tui ad coming on.

There is no big conspiracy here - the new meters are upgradable through software downloads.

And for anyone thinking of going off grid or making a meaningful contribution with 3kW of PV, we shouldn't need "smart meters" to help us manage our power use by talking to different appliances - we would have done everything clever to minimise energy wastage and maximise energy efficiency by then.

BTW, don't think the new northern meters can do grid infeed without adding a specific piece of kit - right now there is no huge clamour for this yet - wholesale prices were around 1 c/kWh last week - grid infeed doesn't look that attractive. (No - I don't think we should subsidise overseas PV manufacturers by providing huge feed-in tariffs subsidised by taxpayers or anyone else.)

The southern focussed SOE developed its own proprietary system - on a planet that is moving towards smart meters and with development on these having been carried out for years, having a NZ based company with only 100,000 customers or so, design something unique, was probably not the best idea - but sometimes these bets pay off - for New Zealand Inc.

Prior to roll out, feedback from customers was positive - a whole variety of reasons, includng accurate monthly bills so you don't get a shock when the actual readings arrive; not having strangers wondering around; possibly better pricing options etc. I personally don't care for power bills that fluctuate from $100 one month to $250 the next.

Although the meters probably benefit the companies more than customers to begin with, they may also allow better pricing options for customers later on - we shall see!

Re: Energy Supply - Replacement Meters

Posted 03 Sep '09 10:25 PM

>> grid in feed doesn't look that attractive This depends on the provider doesn't it, Meridian have a 1 for 1 rate so it is attractive to switch to them as a provider, oh but the meters are not compatible, so who pays for the new meter required when switching to other providers ??

This makes switching very difficult and effectively locks in existing users. Is that why the big players are attempting to poach users from each other with extensive TV advertising.

I want to interrogate the new smart meter so I know when to turn on certain high drain appliances at times of cheaper off peak power, so it must have HAN capability.

It would be easier if the end user could optionally purchase their own meter that met the needs of all providers.

>> I personally don't care for power bills that fluctuate from $100 one month to $250 the next.

Cannot say I have ever seen this, at the most they have varied by $40, and does it really matter, it averages to the correct value regardless.

Feedback from customers, what feedback, no one has ever asked for my feedback, just what demographic did the feedback cover.


Re: Energy Supply - Replacement Meters

Posted 03 Sep '09 10:36 PM

Mike, can you explain, or link to, an explanation of HAN and it's functions. Cheers Sam

Re: Energy Supply - Replacement Meters

Posted 04 Sep '09 11:02 AM

Hi Sam, here is a link for informative reading

Basically I will be building my own HAN network monitoring system that interrogates the smart meter for real time data, along with my other solar PV and solar hot water panel systems. These meters report via an RF network interface to a published standard, so shouldn't be too difficult to monitor the meter just as the line companies will do.

I want to know when the meter is charging for expensive peak power or not, this will provide a flag for activating high drain devices like a backup electric HWC element or high current inverter chargers.

Cheers Mike

Re: Energy Supply - Replacement Meters

Posted 04 Sep '09 08:35 PM


HAN being a generic name for Home Area Network could be variable in its implementation. ISO/IEC 15045 is the international standard for home gateways. However this would not cover the RF interface. What published standard are you referring to?

As an electronic design engineer and working for a company that already makes telemetry products, it would be interesting to do an analysis of the market and tech requirements to see if a low cost home interface unit could be economically developed.

Usual problem with NZ domestic market is its small size and the cost that kiwis are willing to pay for a product. This may be further diluted if the utilities companies all do something slightly different making a low cost unit commercially unfeasible.


Re: Energy Supply - Replacement Meters

Posted 05 Sep '09 05:15 AM

I'd like an interface that was able to control my [Insert relevant appliance ] to only operate on off peak power. Done well i should be able to then go onto spot market supply and manage my power consumption quite nicely thank you. This would require internet over power protocol to tell the meter/controller the spot price in real time

Re: Energy Supply - Replacement Meters

Posted 05 Sep '09 01:11 PM

Hi Mike, from anon 3 Sep 11:47pm

The anticompetitive aspects of these [switching] issues are not unnoticed by the watchdogs. Switching will not be prevented - and I suspect will not be allowed to be prevented, whatever the meter owners are up to.

Were you aware that the meters being rolled out by Contact and Genesis, are actually being rolled out (and are owned) by Vector or one of its subsidiaries? So for the time being these one million or so meters will be owned by a third party in any case.

And I don't think there is anything preventing you from installing your own meter - apart from the usual compliance costs relating to testing, accuracy, electrical safety - lots of red tape not of the generators' doing. Perhaps the powers-that-be could publish a list of approved meters and you can put in your own.

The new Contact/Genesis/Vector advanced meters use mobile phone communications networks - not internet over power protocol. You posted above that you intend to interrogate the new meters using a RF network interface like the lines companies do, which means that you don't actually believe you will have any issues with communications protocols at all. I am curious why you suggested that switching between companies will be an issue .

One of the other posts mentions buying directly off the spot market: not many users who can do this now actually choose this path. To be a spot market participant is a costly exercise (compliance, prudential requirements etc) even for middle to large players, and I would be surprised to see 1.5 million small customers being able to or allowed to buy off the spot market.

Therefore people like yourself will necessarily purchase off a broker or the power companies or whoever, based on a pricing plan which may provide time of use rates - which you can readily programme your HAN to take advantage of - so being able to communicate with the meter itself is not actually critical, and I don't even think it is considered necessary.

However, I suspect the functionality you want - fully integrated communications between a HAN and the pricing options being sent to a meter by the power supplier - will be available at some stage, because I don't think it is a difficult step to achieve.

As for Meridian having a 1 for 1, I've always found this intriguing: our power bills are almost entirely made up of say [Meridian], a lines company, and Transpower's charges. If [Meridian] is netting your use off against your generation, then the lines supplying your premises are actually earning less revenue than they ought. At the extreme case, where your total generation for a month exactly matches your usage for the month, then you will end up not paying for power at all. So someone else - not the power companies, but other customers - will be carrying your share of the capital and maintenance cost of your share of the lines. This is one of the subsidies that I strongly object to.

Finally, I understand that a sample of customers were asked about smart meters - bad luck - looks like you weren't one of them.

Re: Energy Supply - Replacement Meters

Posted 05 Sep '09 10:18 PM

Hi Mike

Your intention of using inverter chargers to replenish your batteries using off peak power is very neat. Much cheaper than diesel gensets. I'll add that to the arsenal in future.


Re: Energy Supply - Replacement Meters

Posted 05 Sep '09 10:36 PM

Sorry about the sidetrack to this thread, but my thinking has gone off on a tangent - as PV prices reduce and become more in line with grid power, the contribution from PV to peak lopping during sunny hours is going to mean transmission and distribution lines won't need to be enlarged as much as otherwise, especially if you can ensure a constant charging load in the night to make the drawoff as flat as possible.

Got some PV prices recently - USD $1.5/Wp but low efficiency (6-8%). (Need to add freight).


Re: Energy Supply - Replacement Meters

Posted 05 Sep '09 11:08 PM

The lines companies are over charging for the daily rental, its just a rip-off.

Countries like Germany have made great progress in advancing consumer solar PV using feed in tariffs, the only reason for not wanting it here is the downward profit trend for the gen-retailers and govt.

Yes PV is still dropping, with the global slump and the extra silicon plants coming online reducing the cost of panel cell components. With new printed quantum dot technology in the wings, the future looks good for individuals to be independent of the money grabbing power companies.


Re: Energy Supply - Replacement Meters

Posted 06 Sep '09 08:51 AM

Here's an example of smart PV investment, pity our govt cannot see past the dividends coming in from the state owned energy companies.

Re: Energy Supply - Replacement Meters

Posted 07 Sep '09 02:16 AM

Hi Mike

If generators don't pay for lines, as is the current setup (apart from the equipment actually connecting them to the grid), then PV generators should be treated the same.


Re: Energy Supply - Replacement Meters

Posted 07 Sep '09 03:08 AM

I'm sure the lines have been paid for many time over, thats why its a rip off.

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