Vic to beat NSW to smart meters

Victoria has announced it will start rolling out smart metering technology via energy distributors by the end of this year.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Victoria has announced it will start rolling out smart metering technology via energy distributors by the end of this year.

Energy and Resources Minister Peter Batchelor today announced Victoria's plan to equip 2.5 million Victorian households and small business with digital "smart" electricity meters, with the first deployments due by the end of the year.

Southeast Melbourne, Mornington Peninsula, and the northern and inner western suburbs of Melbourne will be the first to get the new meters, via energy distributors United Energy Distribution and Jemena.

"Jemena and UED have finalised agreements with a range of suppliers to source and install the new meters with the first expected to be installed in households later this year," said Batchelor in a statement.

"The two distributors will begin notifying the first households and small businesses of arrangements to replace old meters during the next few months."

Key benefits the minister hopes to achieve from the new technology include remote meter reading, maintenance requests, and switching. Households and businesses will also get greater visibility of actual energy consumption via 30-minute updates.

Greater transparency of consumption habits could allow households and retailers to adjust behaviour to suit off-peak pricing options, said Batchelor. "This could mean cheaper electricity could be offered at set times during the day, so a household could save money by ensuring more of their heavy electricity use is during these times."

Distributors have until 2012 to supply customers with the technology.

NSW's deadline for the roll-out of smart metering technology is 2017. Country Energy (CE) and IBM announced joint plans to trial the technology amongst 10,000 households in the coming months. At a recent media briefing CE spokesperson Ben Hamilton said the technology was evolving too rapidly for large investments in it today.

But whether Victorian households change behaviour following the deployment of smart metering will depend on another factor: price sensitivity to energy. A CE household trial in NSW revealed it was children and not parents who responded to automated alerts, for example, that lights had been left on. This would suggest that parents were not sensitive to the price of energy, Simes told ZDNet.com.au.

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