11 August 2011

Urgent need for electricity leadership – Environment Commissioner

An ongoing failure to be smarter with how we manage electricity will have significant costs for the environment, consumers and the economy, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright told the Commerce Select Committee this morning.

Dr Wright was invited back to the Committee to give an update on developments since her June 2009 report on smart electricity meters.

"My main message today is that smart meters don't need to be identical in every respect, but that standardisation of key features is urgently required if we are to achieve a smart grid.

"A smart grid is vital if New Zealand's electricity infrastructure is to cope with impending demands such as increased renewable generation and electric vehicles.

"With current developments we will have households in some parts of the country with really smart meters and households elsewhere left with dumb meters.

"This will make it very difficult to achieve a smart grid. It's a mess and it's shaping up to be a mess that will cost the environment and the economy.

"For many of the same common sense reasons we standardised electricity voltage, frequency and the three pin plug we need to standardise smart meters and a smart grid.

"Instead we have increasingly fragmented our electricity sector in this country with a confusing number of companies all doing their own thing.

"The decisions made about this now will have a significant impact in the very near future."

ENDS

The presentation made to select committee is available here.

The original smart meter report is available here.