Vic Oppposition calls for smart meter halt

Cites Auditor General report finding cost blow out in the millions of dollars

The Victorian Opposition is calling for a halt to the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) project accusing the Government of bungling the roll out of smart meters in the state.

The Liberal-Nationals Coalition has cited the November 2009 Auditor-General’s report into the project which found the cost of the project had blown out from $800 million to $2.25 billion and had suffered delays, poor functionality and poor risk management.

As reported by Computerworld, the Towards a ‘smart grid’ — the roll-out of Advanced Metering Infrastructure report found the AMI project did not use the checks and balances that would ordinarily apply to a major investment directly funded by the state.

“Victorian families have to pay through the nose for the meters even if they don’t have them, then pay again through massive increases in peak charges when the meters are installed,” Victorian shadow minister for energy Michael O’Brien said in a statement.

“With the Auditor-General questioning whether consumers will get any benefit at all, the Brumby Government should put an immediate halt to the roll out until there has been a full and independent cost-benefit analysis of this bungled project.”

Commenting on the calls for a halt, Victorian energy and resources minister Peter Batchelor said in a statement that three major cost-benefit studies had already been conducted through the development of the AMI project and all have demonstrated benefits in rolling out the project.

"We want Victorians to be able to access the full potential of smart meters, so we will continue to work with consumers to ensure they are fully informed about the benefits of the new technology," he said.

“That’s why I have also announced the Essential Services Commission will do a separate review of smart meter consumer regulations in light of the new electricity pricing structures, to ensure vulnerable Victorians are not disadvantaged by the changes."

As reported by Computerworld, the review will seek to ensure “vulnerable” Victorians are not disadvantaged by the new pricing changes.

“We want to ensure that the smart meter roll-out and the transition to time-of-use tariffs are carefully and properly managed,” Batchelor said at the time.

“I am also writing to the Australian Energy Regulator on this and other matters and I will highlight my expectations that consumer groups and the wider public have the chance to be properly consulted and educated about any major changes to pricing."

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Tags smart metersAdvanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)victorian government

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