Smart meterA four-year project to roll out about 50,000 smart electricity meters across the Isle of Man has begun.

About 8,000 pre-payment key meters will be replaced during the first phase of the £18.2m programme, Manx Utilities said.

The upgrading of the infrastructure at all other domestic and commercial properties will begin in early 2023.

Company chairman Rob Callister said it would “provide the foundation for a cleaner, more efficient energy system”.

The smart meters will feed energy usage patterns back to the utilities provider, enabling energy production to be tailored more precisely in order to reduce waste.

Electricity prices on the island rose by 30% in April due to rising wholesale gas costs. The rollout was originally due to start in early 2020 but was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Manx Utilities said while in-home displays had initially been considered “an integral part” of the project, they would now be offered as a paid-for optional extra.

Customers would instead be able to use a new free Smarter Living app to monitor energy consumption.

Pre-payment customers in Andreas, Ballaugh, Bride, Jurby, Kirk Michael, Sulby and Peel will be the first to be converted to the new Smarter PAYG system, which can be used in conjunction with the app to top up credit online.

However, the ability to buy credit at some retail outlets will be retained.

Mr Callister said the app would give people see what they are using and allow them to save more.

The new smart meter system would also automatically notify the company of power cuts.

The project is being funded by £10m from the government, alongside money from Manx Utilities’ annual budget, over a 10-year period.