Sydney, Australia — (METERING.COM) — November 29, 2012 – The New South Wales Smart Meter Task Force has proposed a market-led introduction of smart meters as the best option for the state in a newly released discussion document.
Stating that a government mandated rollout – as implemented in the neighboring state of Victoria – should be avoided, the Task Force says it concluded that there are strong overall benefits for consumers in introducing smart meters if the costs are minimized and appropriately allocated.
The Task Force also does not believe a “do nothing”strategy is a viable option.
The Task Force was established by the minister for resources and energy, Chris Hartcher, to provide advice on a range of consumer focused options for the potential introduction of smart meters in NSW. Under the chairmanship of local businessman Alan Lipman, the Task Force held its first meeting in June 2012.
The document says that a market-led or voluntary approachwould likely be led by a private investor or retailer and would provide consumers the choice as to whether to install a smart meter. It relies on the creation of an environment where energy companies have an incentive to offer innovative pricing products that suit the financial circumstances and other lifestyle choices of their customers.
The involvement of government may also be necessary, specifically in playing a role to reduce some of the risks of investing in a smart meter rollout, for example by maximizing public support through community education programs.
The benefits of a market-led rollout would include lower take-up costs, the development of new pricing packages, and greater opportunities for private investment. However, potentialrisks are limited benefits due to low take-up, expensive duplication of some infrastructure, and double charging for metering.
“The NSW government has learnt from the Victorian experience and does not advocate a mandated approach, but believes a market-based approach may have a role to play,” said Minister Hartcher. “Customers need to understand and believe in the benefits that smart meters can offer. Energy businesses should have flexibility to offer innovative products that customers want, not ones that a government has forced upon them. And when these products are made available, customers should be entitled to choose.”
The paper is open for consultation until February 28, 2013, after which a final report will be prepared in March.