MORATORIUM TO ENSURE SMOOTH SMART METER ROLL-OUT

From the Minister for Energy & Resources

Monday, 22 March 2010

The Brumby Labor Government will ensure Victorians are fully aware of new electricity network time-of-use pricing structures associated with smart meters after announcing a moratorium on the scheme.

Energy and Resources Minister Peter Batchelor announced the moratorium, which will be effective immediately, after this afternoon's meeting of the Customer Consultation Working Group.

“The roll-out of smart meters across Victoria is progressing well, but we are committed to ensuring the transition to a new pricing structure is managed carefully and sensibly,” Mr Batchelor said.

“Time-of-use pricing is where customers are charged different rates at different times of the day. This pricing structure will help Victorians control their energy costs but we need to make sure the changes are fully understood across the community before they are introduced.

“Electricity distribution businesses have agreed to delay the introduction of time-of-use pricing until more work is done to protect vulnerable Victorians.

“Today’s meeting with key stakeholders including the Consumer Utilities Advocacy Centre (CUAC), Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS), St Vincent de Paul was very productive and the decision to put a moratorium in place will give the Customer Consultation Working Group time to look at how to ensure all Victorians can benefit.”

Mr Batchelor said the moratorium would enable a joint assessment between government, industry and consumer groups to:
  • Ensure the current best practice consumer protection framework for Victorians continued to apply in conjunction with new tariffs;
  • Consider the need for electricity concessions in light of the costs of the roll-out and potential equity impacts of new tariff arrangements;
  • Examine options for the introduction of time-of-use pricing arrangements, including a pilot pricing trial to assess impacts;
  • Regularly review the impact of time-of-use tariffs on Victorian families; and
  • Investigate the need for an extensive consumer education campaign to provide clear information about smart meters, the new tariffs and what this means Victorians.

Mr Batchelor said the Government would also take into account the findings of the regulatory review of smart meters currently being undertaken by the Essential Services Commission.

“The smart meter roll-out will see 2.5 million smart meters installed over the next four years in all Victorian homes and small businesses – and this will help Victorians tackle climate change and we know that smart meters are an important tool to monitor and control energy use.”

The Victorian Government already has in place a range of energy concessions. Most of these operate as a percentage of customer bills, so as bills rise these concessions will also increase. In 2009-10 the  Government provided $1.262 billion in concessions including energy. For more information visit www.dpi.vic.gov.au/smartmeters
 
web design melbourne