As the Australian state of Victoria nears the end of its 2.8 million smart meter rollout, the government has passed new regulations to penalise electricity distributors that have yet to upgrade all customers, as well as to address the issue of manual meter reading fees.

Smart meter rebate

The Victorian Government has ruled that smart meters are standard meters in Victoria. Therefore, any electricity distributor that had not attempted to install a smart meter in a Victorian home or small business by June 30, 2014, will have to pay the customer a rebate to compensate them for potential savings that would have made through using the energy-saving technology.

The regulations state the distributor will pay a one-off payment of AUS125 by the end of October, 2014, to customers who had not received their smart meter by the end of June.

This excludes customer who refused to have a smart meter installed or didn’t provide access to their premises for installation to take place.

Remote meter reading

Meanwhile, energy companies that don’t have remote meter reading in place by March 31, 2015, will have to pay consumers a one-off payment of AUS125. Again, this is to compensate customers for not having access to the energy saving benefits of smart meters.

[Read – Victoria smart meter roll out more than 90% complete]

Manual meter reading fee

The Victorian government has also issued regulations to clarify how electricity distributors can recover costs associated with manually reading meters for customers who refuse smart meter installation.

From April 1, 2015, a manual meter fee can be charged to a premises “where a customer has expressly refused a smart meter or has not provided access to allow a smart meter to be installed”, states the Victorian Government’s smart meter website.

The statement said: “The amount of the manual meter fee will reflect the cost of continuing to provide manual meter reading services to premises that do not have a smart meter (for example, the cost of visiting the site to read the meter).

It adds: “The Australian Energy Regulator must approve the amount of a manual meter fee before it is charged, to determine it is set at a reasonable level, and that it is cost reflective.”

The approval process to determine the amount of the fee is due for completion by the end of 2014.

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