An article on the pro-smart meter website www.smartmeters.com details how the introduction of “smart meters” in North America led to a massive lawsuit from customers incensed by a large increase in their bills.
Residents in Bakersfield, California claimed that the “smart meters” were malfunctioning; however Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) blamed the high prices on the fact that consumers did not change their electricity habits and consume power at cheaper times of the day. (Bakersfield is in the desert and air conditioning is needed to keep homes at a reasonable temperature, so residents did not have much option in terms of changing their electricity consumption.)
The author bemoans the situation as a “PR nightmare” for “smart meters”. However, this article highlights an important problem with “smart meters”; that these devices are time-of-use meters and once they have been installed, power companies may choose to charge customers more for electricity at times of the day when electricity is most needed – such as in the early morning when people are getting ready to go to work and the late afternoon when people are coming home from school and work and need to cook dinner, bathe and heat their homes in winter etc.
In cases in which electricity companies do increase the price of electricity at the times when it is most needed, households may end up paying more for electricity even though their power consumption remains the same.
Most companies in NZ have not yet introduced different tariffs for different times of day; however Genesis does offer households a range of pricing plans including some that offer different prices for electricity at different times of the day, while Contact Energy offers a Day/Night plan. (These may not be the only NZ companies that have these sort of plans.) This link has more information on different power pricing plans: https://www.powerswitch.org.nz/powerswitch/site-info/powerswitch-faqs/pricing-plans
The full article may be read at this link: