Victorian smart meter roll-out put on hold

Consumer groups argue that the use of time-of-use pricing will disproportionately affect low income households

Victoria’s roll out of smart meters has been put on hold following lobbying from advocacy groups over concerns that the scheme’s time-of-use pricing model could adversely affect consumers.

The moratorium was put in place following a meeting yesterday between Victorian Energy and Resources Minister Peter Batchelor and representatives from the Utilities Advocacy Centre (CUAC), Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS) and St Vincent de Paul.

Speaking to Computerworld Australia, St Vincent De Paul National Council Chief Executive, Dr John Falzon, said the organisation had called for a halt to the roll-out as it believed the use of time-of-use pricing could hurt aged pensioners, the unemployed and sole parents.

“The time-of-use pricing rang alarm bells for us as disadvantaged households – people who are stuck at home during the day - will be disproportionately negatively impacted by time-of-use pricing. They will be unable to alter their energy consumption patterns,” he said.

“The ongoing costs of the smart meters – not just the initial outlay and installation – will be something that will be passed on to households and that will also disproportionately affect low income household.”

Falzon said it was up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government (COAG) to develop a strong and uniform set of protections for low income households from the market impact of time-of-use pricing, as well as the potential negative impacts of the move toward the internationalisation of energy prices.

“Time-of-use pricing can be of enormous benefit to those who have the luxury of being able to change their energy consumption patterns – particularly those who are out at work during the peak [pricing] periods,” he said.

Expressing similar concerns, the Victorian Council of Social Service said it was imperative that the impacts of time-of-use pricing were investigated and measures be put in place to ensure low income and disadvantaged households were not made worse off under the smart meter scheme.

“We’re pleased the Victorian Government has recognised that the long-term unemployed, people with disabilities and older people, or those at home with small children might not get a better deal once the roll out of smart meters to millions of Victorian households is complete,” VCOSS chief executive Cath Smith said in a statement.

According to the Energy and Resources Minister, having a moratorium on the roll out of smart meters would allow the government to ensure that consumer protections would apply to the new electricity tariffs and that the costs of the roll-out and potential equity impacts of new tariff arrangements were properly considered.

The Victorian Government argues that time-of-use pricing will help households tackle climate change and monitor and control their energy use.

In February the Victorian Opposition also called for a halt to the roll out of smart meters accusing the Government of bungling the project.

In October last year Victorian electricity distributor, SP AusNet, said it would partner with 12 companies and utilise WiMAX technology to roll out 680,000 smart meters in the state over a three year period.

Tags Utilities Advocacy Centre (CUAC)VictoriaSt Vincent de Paulsmart metersVictorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS)

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Don't worry about if the projec is 'fair'....think of this instead: If australia thinks the insulation roll out is dangerous, this project has private subbies doing up to 35 metres a day at $20 a metre. The official estimate was no more than 10 per day because of the testing etc that has to be done after the installation of each metre. However, subbies are failing to do the tests because - believe me - the tests take longer than the actual installation. The contracted companies are not whining about it because they get about $43 for each meter installed. Thus, the more the subbies achieve in a day, the more each contracting company makes. When will mainstream media expose and put a halt to it?

Old Bob


The use of time of day charging meters was implemented and abandoned in the UK years back. It was deemed socially undesirable to have pensioners doing their washing and hoovering at 3:00am so that they got the cheaper prices. The cheaper electricity charging period on weekdays is such that only the very poor or the keen will make use of it. No matter when you use electricity you still have to use it. How is this going to help with "climate change"? The poor wont pay extra for "green" electricity. This push is just a giant con by governments and the generating facilities to disguise a failure to do proper planning and investment.



The only time I believe EU intervention actually made sense , they were all other smart meters like a rash, and forced their retiremen
They were deemed to unfairly target the old, the ill and the disavantaged.

UK only retired them once the threat of a human rights EU style compliant was put foreward and some plucky pensioners had launched a legal action, both in the UK and with the EU
However Victorians have no such recourse so hope they arnt smoke and mirrored into believing this does climate change one ounce of difference and is more about revenue.

As with any so called climate saving annoucement of any government body, I tend to follow the money trail.
If you do this with carbon trading for instance, you find lots of money moving around, but bugger all happening to save the climate as such, and who actually gains ? Well government and carbon trader brokers of course for one, polar bears and glaciers not so much, go figure.



Bunnings sell a cheap fix for smart meters, its called a hammer and is very effective.



hahahaha nice



The smart???? meter is another smoke and mirror exercise by a Government that has no idea what it is doing. I do not want this meter as I do not trust any electrician other that the one I always use. Keep away from my property. Also I dont beleive that the government can tell me I must buy it. I fought communism in the 60's to prevent this in my country.



I was almost involved in metering policy development for EnergyAustralia, where I worked a few years back.
The capital cost of installing 'smart' meters is one major obstacle, and the political doubt over who should be required to install them is another obstacle. I suggest the initial roll-out should stop at consumers using half a MWh/month. (i.e. if you use less than that, no meter is mandated.) I would guess that leaves out many low-income households, anyway. In the end, the cost of installation must be borne by the consumer.

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