Melbourne, Australia — (METERING.COM) — December 15, 2011 – Victoria’s smart meter rollout is to continue, but with major changes to ensure consumers receive the benefits, the state government has decided following an extensive review of the program.
Key findings of the review are that at this stage of the program’s life, the maximum benefit would be delivered by continuing the rollout. Consumers can benefit from an orderly introduction of flexible pricing, including the continuation of flat rates, but greater customer engagement is required to better explain smart meters and their operation. In addition, the smart meters are safe and fall well within the requirements for electromagnetic and radiofrequency emissions.
The main changes that will be made to the program include:
- Subsidizing in-home displays to help households control their energy bills, with some basic in-home displays available at low cost by mid-2012
- Progressively offering remote connections for Victorians moving house from January 1, 2012, saving customers around Au$15, or more than Au$100 (US$100) after hours
- Extending the delay on the introduction of flexible pricing until at least 2013, to allow time for consumers to learn more about their options
- Ensuring consumers can choose to remain on flat rates even when flexible pricing is introduced
- Toughening the regulation of smart meter cost recovery by distribution businesses, including through removing the automatic allowance for cost overruns of 10 to 20 percent put in place under the former Labor government
- Providing greater oversight by government and giving consumer and welfare groups a much stronger voice in the smart meter rollout process through a new Ministerial Advisory Council.
“The state government review has found the most responsible option is to continue the rollout of smart meters to all homes and small businesses by the end of 2013 – with improvements that bring greater benefits to consumers, sooner,” it said.
The review was initiated after the current state government came to power and in the light of earlier criticisms, particularly around the costs and benefits, by the Victoria auditor-general.