In June 2009, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment released a report titled Smart electricity meters: How households and the environment can benefit. The report focused on concerns that the new electronic meters being installed in households around New Zealand by electricity retailers were not as smart as they should be, and thus not provide benefits for householders or the environment.
When the report was released in 2009, a large-scale installation of electronic meters in New Zealand was just beginning, with the roll-out of meters to 1.3 million households due to be completed by 2013.
The Commissioner's interest is in the potential environmental benefits enabled by really smart meters. Around a quarter of New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector come from burning coal and gas in power plants to generate electricity. In addition, as the demand for electricity grows, more power plants must be built, and all new power plants have environmental impacts.