Should AMI be installed in embedded networks in Victoria?


Peter Batchelor,
Minister of Energy and
Australia, Melbourne — (METERING.COM) — March 19, 2007 –While state-wide rollout of AMI is mandated in the Victoria, Australia government’s amended Electricity Industry Act, the question now under debate is whether it should be a requirement for flat and apartment dwellers and other ‘embedded network’ customers.

The government of the state of Victoria amended the Electricity Industry Act 2000 in August 2006 to provide powers to enable a state-wide rollout of AMI to electricity customers. However, the Act is not explicit as to whether AMI should be required to be installed for customers in an embedded network, i.e. when an intermediary such as a landlord or building manager (known as the embedded network operator, ENO), rather than the local electricity distributor, is responsible for the management of the distribution, metering and on-selling of electricity.

In order to seek comment on this issue a discussion paper has been released, which notes that embedded networks have existed in Victoria in varying forms for many years. Further, with the recent growth in the construction of multiple-occupancy buildings, the proportion of customers in embedded networks may increase.

The paper says that the government is keen, without seeking to unduly broaden the base of metered customers, to ensure that (metered) customers in embedded networks have access to retail competition and potential AMI benefits. In particular, some AMI functionalities, including remote routine daily reading, remote special reads and remote connect and disconnect, would have equivalent or higher than average benefits for residential customers in embedded networks. Thus overall, it is likely that the net benefits of AMI in embedded networks will exceed those for average customers, thereby making a reasonable case for AMI to be deployed to these customers.

Accordingly the government believes that in principle, AMI should be deployed in embedded networks, both existing and new, where it is economically efficient to do so. Moreover, AMI should be deployed to existing remotely read interval metered sites within an embedded network when the meter is to be replaced for operational reasons, e.g. as the meter approaches its asset life or when the customer changes retailer and the metering is replaced. However, in cases where the electricity supply is classified as ‘incidental’, such as in short stay situations and service accommodation (caravan parks, student accommodation, rented office buildings, etc.), where the cost of electricity is normally bundled in the rental, AMI metering should not be a requirement.

The government also proposes that ENOs who wish to be responsible for the installation of AMI and ongoing associated metering services should be required to obtain formal accreditation for these services – currently ENOs are not necessarily bound by formal market licences, accreditations and responsibilities – or otherwise that the ENO’s distributor be required to fufil the role of ‘responsible person’.

Comments on these various issues are now sought, with a closing date for submissions of April 30, 2007.