CLP Power's smart meters will track power use
CLP Power customers in New Territories and Kowloon take part in pilot aimed at cutting bills
Thousands of power users in Kowloon and the New Territories will be equipped with smart meters that will track their power use and alert them when their consumption or budget approaches a pre-set level.
CLP Power will install the meters in 3,000 homes and 1,400 businesses next year in an 18-month pilot scheme to find out whether the intelligent devices will help change consumers' power-use habits and save energy.
The information will go out through a wireless network to smartphones or in-building displays.
"You can always set your budget but you don't know when you will reach it now until it is too late," said Wayne Pales, head of CLP's smart grid programme.
Power meters are usually placed in a central place outside the user's premises not accessible to residents. This keeps users in the dark about their consumption until they get their two-monthly power bill.
Smart-meter programmes are being tried in more than 150 cities around the world with varying results. Pales said some achieved savings of a few per cent and others up to 20 per cent. He would not speculate about the likely result in Hong Kong.
Pales said the 3,000 homes were still being chosen, and the selected users would be notified about the scheme. They will have a choice to join, not join or opt out part-way through.
Sai Kung and East Kowloon will be among the target areas but Pales refused to give details of the buildings.
More than 1,000 buildings are expected to be equipped with the meters and 18 business types, including restaurants and laundries, will be involved.
Pales said the scheme would have only minimal impact on the capital expenditures of the power firm, which is guaranteed a 9.99 per cent return on net fixed assets, as the target buildings were already due to have their meters replaced.
Both existing meters and the smart devices last 15 to 20 years. CLP has more than two million meters.
Dr William Yu Yuen-ping, chief executive of World Green Organisation, welcomed the scheme but urged the power firm to step up education about its use.
He said some places adopted differential pricing for peak and non-peak hours along with the smart meters.