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Energy Safe Victoria investigation into Smart Meter safety

18th May 2012

Victoria’s independent energy safety regulator, Energy Safe Victoria, today released a draft report into the electrical safety of Victoria’s Smart Meters (or Advanced Metering Infrastructure).

The report concluded that Smart Meters are safe, do not pose any greater safety risk than the meters they are replacing, and that there is no evidence to suggest that Smart Meters are exploding or causing fires.

Energy Safe Victoria began a review into the safety of Smart Meters following reports in the media of meter failures in Melbourne’s northern suburbs in December 2011 and January 2012.

While the failures were initially thought to have been caused by a high-voltage injection (e.g. lightning strikes), further investigation determined criminal damage was actually the cause. Police are now investigating these incidents.

Victoria’s Director of Energy Safety, Paul Fearon, stated that “these incidents and the continuing media coverage have caused a great deal of unwarranted public concern and worry, especially for the elderly and vulnerable. Throughout this period, Energy Safe Victoria has consistently stated that, on all available evidence, Smart Meters are safe and if they fail, they fail safely.”

“Our conclusions are based on research, specific inquiries and investigation,” said Mr Fearon. “On all the available evidence, I have no hesitation in assuring Victorians that smart meters are safe. We will nevertheless continue to monitor the rollout, investigate incidents and assess trends to ensure that the safety of Victorians remains paramount”.

The Energy Safe Victoria report found:

  • There is no evidence to suggest that Smart Meters are exploding or causing fires.
  • Recent confirmed examples of latent meter failure are attributable to to criminal damage rather than high-voltage injection.
  • When Smart Meters fail, they fail safely and potentially reduce the risk of personal damage and injury.
  • There is no evidence to suggest the safety risks associated with Smart Meters are any greater than older style electronic or electromechanical meters.
  • Smart Meters being installed in Victoria meet current Australian Standards including those related to safety, and those standards are robust and appropriate.
  • Electricity companies are following the Victorian Electricity Supply Industry’s minimum procedures for responding to a high-voltage injection when it occurs - this includes requirements to inspect metering equipment and to conduct testing as required.
  • The procedures that detail what is acceptable in relation to the condition of meter boards and panels prior to a meter installation, were found to be appropriate and suitable.

The draft report is now available for public comment and submissions are invited to ensure all community concerns are addressed. After assessing comments received, Energy Safe Victoria will release a final report by the end of July 2012.

A copy of the draft report is available from the Energy Safe Victoria website, www.esv.vic.gov.au

Submissions will be received until 15 June 2012 and should be forwarded to info@esv.vic.gov.au