The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) has welcomed the NSW
Government’s announcement of a market-led roll out of smart meters, subject to
high functionality meter standards, strong consumer protections and no exit
fees from standard meters.
‘Smart meters can be a valuable tool to assist households to manage
their energy use and so reduce their bills’ said PIAC Senior Policy Officer, Dr Gabrielle Kuiper. ‘They have been
used for many years in commercial and industrial applications and we would
encourage consumers to look at the benefits for their household. They can be especially
useful if you have appliances which use a lot of electricity, like big air
conditioning systems or a swimming pool pump’.
PIAC believes smart
meters need to be truly smart. ‘It is only with functionality such as remote
control of appliances (such as pool pumps and air conditioning) within the
minimum standard for meters in NSW, that the full benefits of smart meters for
reducing customers bills will be realised’ said Dr Kuiper.
PIAC is concerned
that in the NSW networks’ pricing submissions to the Australian Energy
Regulator (AER), the distribution businesses have proposed high average metering exit fees, including $195 (for
Ausgrid customers) and $117 (for Essential Energy customers). Dr Kuiper said,
‘PIAC’s view is that high exit fees are a major barrier to smart meter uptake
and competition for metering services’. ‘We are hoping that either the AER
abolishes these fees in its draft price determination, due at the end of
November, or the Government requests the network businesses reconsider what
fees will support metering contestability’.
PIAC welcomes the
New South Wales Government’s commitment to supporting households to better
manage their energy use through this smart meter policy. PIAC is particularly
pleased to see that customers will still have access to the same level of
consumer protection regardless of whether they have a smart meter or not and
that smart meter-specific consumer protections will be developed. ‘PIAC looks
forward to working with the NSW Government on developing strong consumer
protections to support the uptake of smart meters’ said Dr Kuiper.
MEDIA CONTACT: Senior Policy Officer, Dr Gabrielle Kuiper 0410 324 942