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Smart Meter rollout update

14 Dec 2011

The Victorian Government’s review of the Smart Meter program has found the most responsible option is to continue the meter rollout, with improvements which bring greater benefits to households.

The extensive program review, which included an independent cost-benefit analysis, has informed the Government’s decision on the future of Smart Meters.

The review of the Smart Meter program found:

  • at this stage of the program’s life, the maximum benefit is delivered by continuing the rollout
  • Smart Meters are safe and fall well within the requirements for electromagnetic and radiofrequency emissions
  • consumers can benefit from an orderly introduction of flexible pricing, including the continuation of flat rates
  • greater customer engagement is required to better explain Smart Meters and their operation.

With more than 900,000 meters already installed across Victoria, many of the economic benefits of moving from a manual to an automated metering system can only be delivered to the community if Smart Meter technology is installed to all properties across the state.

For this reason all households and small businesses will need to have their meter upgraded.

The review found that by introducing changes to the program, Smart Meters can deliver greater benefits. To bring these forward, the Victorian Government will work with power companies to improve consumer services and minimise costs to deliver the best value for the state.

The main changes to the Smart Meter program include:

  • subsidising 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 1 Jan 2012, saving customers around $15, or more than $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 Victorian 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 through removing the automatic allowance for cost overruns of 10 to 20 per cent 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 Government has also reached an agreement with electricity companies to delay the introduction of flexible pricing options until at least 2013. Customers will have the choice of remaining on a flat tariff or moving to flexible pricing.

This hold on flexible pricing will not only allow the Government to respond to report findings regarding the customer impacts of these pricing structures, but will also allow more time for community consultation and an orderly introduction of new pricing regimes.

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