High-tech “advanced meters” that can be read remotely will be given to electricity customers in regional areas under a scheme by provider Horizon Power.

But the State-owned utility says the meters will not be used for “demand management” techniques, which allow the network operator to control people’s air-conditioners to relieve stress on the grid.


Horizon will provide advanced meters to all its 47,000 customers, starting in Port Hedland next month and finishing in Karratha at the end of 2017.


Other towns to be given the meters include Broome, Carnarvon and Esperance. The move, a WA first, will cost $37 million but Horizon says it will not affect its customers’ power bills.


Horizon chief executive Frank Tudor said meters would be provided en masse because many were old and needed replacing.


Mr Tudor said the program would cut Horizon’s operating costs by about $7 million a year when completed because the meters could be checked remotely from Perth and would no longer need to be read physically.


Connecting and disconnecting customers will also be done remotely and the meters will make it easier for Horizon to identify whether electrical faults are its problem or the property owner’s.


Mr Tudor said the new meters would provide customers with more accurate information about their account by removing the need to guess some households’ usage.


This happens about 10 per cent of the time because Horizon’s workers cannot get access to a customer’s meter, which may be behind closed gates or blocked by guard dogs.


“We operate in an area that’s a third the size of the US mainland...so there’s a lot of effort and resources involved in physically reading meters, ” Mr Tudor said.


“If you can automate that it’s a big plus.”


© The West Australian

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