Climate change is the biggest environmental problem of our time. It is essential that New Zealand move towards a low carbon economy and take advantage of the new technology becoming available within the electricity sector. Smart grids, including smart meters, offer opportunities to reduce electricity consumption, thereby reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
In June 2009 I released my report: Smart Electricity Meters: How households and the environment can benefit. My investigation into smart meters was motivated by the environmental impacts of rising electricity demand, especially at peak times when thermal power plants are running at high capacity and emitting carbon dioxide. And when peak demand goes up, new power plants – all of which have some environmental impacts – must be built. Smart meters have the potential to create a step change in curbing the growth in the demand for electricity.
My report was tabled in Parliament and currently remains with the Commerce Select Committee for their consideration. The Committee has recently asked me whether I would update them on developments since my report was released and I will be doing so. When I appear before them I expect that this submission will form part of my update.