Smart meters given a fail  

Posted by Big Gav in , ,

Smart meters continue to get bad press everywhere - partly from bad communication (no one seems to understand what benefits they could offer), partly from bad products (which don't do enough to be really useful) and partly from the absence of dynamic, realtime power pricing to make a decent implementation useful. The Age has an example of the lack of enthusiasm in the Australian market today - Smart meters given a fail.

VICTORIA'S experiment in rolling out so-called ''smart electricity meters'' is unlikely to be seen in New South Wales soon, with the head of one of the largest electricity distributors casting doubt on their merit. Last year in Victoria, the cost of the program blew out to $2 billion from initial estimates of $800 million.

''Is the business case in place? I'd have to say it's not,'' George Maltabarow, the managing director of Ausgrid, told a forum recently. ''Victoria is a very good example of that. ...

NSW has been slower to move, and the merging of information technology and electricity grids coupled with the large price declines of the necessary equipment means that there was no advantage in being the first to act.

Smart meters allow households to monitor their power consumption and reduce use during peak price periods, which can help reduce electricity networks investing in equipment otherwise used only a few hours a year. ...

In NSW, Ausgrid has more than 400,000 first-generation smart meters installed, with 250,000 customers on ''time-of-use'' contracts. Mr Maltabarow estimated that these households reduced their electricity bills by as much as $270 a year, on average, with time-of-use contracts, while the median saving is about $70 a year. Other NSW electricity distributors have been on the back foot in adopting the technology as well, due to the cost of rolling out the meters and limited benefit. ...

Under the federal government's ''smart cities smart grid'' program, Ausgrid is rolling out smart meters that have communication capabilities, which will enable it, with TruEnergy which bought the company's retailing operations earlier this year, to test differing pricing products combined with feedback technology, Mr Maltabarow said.

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