• 12 SEP 13
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    Queensland avoids smart meter mandate. Or is it smart meters by stealth?

    NOTE: See my comment after the below article


    From Stop Smart Meters Australia:


    Queensland avoids smart meter mandate

    Posted on September 11, 2013 by Stop Smart Meters Australia

    New discussion paper cites Victorian smart meter debacle, says advanced electricity meter roll out must be “customer-driven”

    Download the discussion paper here

    The cost of the Victorian smart meter rollout blew out dramatically, with a 2011 review by the state government finding its predecessor had underestimated the cost by $415 million.

    As well, the program faced criticisms about meter safety, which the review said were unfounded, and time-of-use electricity pricing. The total cost of the Victorian rollout is in excess of $2 billion, compared to an initial estimate of around $900 million.

    A 30-year electricity strategy discussion paper released today by the Queensland government instead supports a “customer-driven rollout of advanced meters”, with service providers competing to offer metering services to consumers.

    “Customers can choose to adopt the technology based on their own assessment of the benefits,” the discussion paper states.

    Advanced meters would include interval meters that provide time of use information and measure electricity consumption in small blocs than the more common accumulation meters, which provide only the total usage between manual reads.

    Advanced meters rolled out in Queensland may include smart meters, which offer additional features such as two-way wireless communication between the meter and the electricity supplier.

    A rollout of advanced meters would have to incorporate strong privacy protection for consumers as well as consumer engagement and education, according to the discussion paper.

    With regards to time-of-use pricing, which charges based on when electricity is consumed as opposed to at a flat rate, the report says that “government policies give customers the choice on whether to accept these options”.

    “The proponents of advanced metering must be able to show consumers that the benefits of any rollout outweigh costs, if any, to them,” states supplementary material issued with the discussion paper.

    “To enable this, customers must be able to access their own data easily and be given the power to authorise other parties to help them better understand the opportunities to manage and make savings on their electricity consumption.”

    Rohan Pearce, TechWorld


    My comment

    Read the fine print

    This is certainly a vast improvement, driven in part by the mess the Victorian smart meter rollout has created. However if Queenslanders think this is the end of the issue for them, better read the fine print and lock up your meter box-just in case.

    The “master plan” for a smart meter rollout throughout Australia is the report The Power of Choice review, put out by the Australian Energy Market Commission (AMEC).

    The Power of Choice review lists defined exceptions to allowing people to opt out of having a smart meter installed on their home. To quote:

    The rules provide that more advanced technology be used and installed in defined situations (ie new connections, refurbishments and replacements.) These would also be as per the SCER minimum functionally specification for smart meters.

    What this means is that all new buildings will get a smart meter. If you are planning renovations to your existing home that requires changes to the wiring, which will need your power company’s safety inspection, they will install a new electronic meter which meets “the minimum functionally specification for smart meters”. You will not be given the option of an analogue (non-smart) meter, which will no longer be available. In addition, there is also the planned replacement of all analogue meters statewide. The new electricity meter will be a smart meter or an electronic meter capable of being upgraded to a fully functioning smart meter by simply inserting a chip. This is currently happening quietly in Tasmania.

    As I see it, the policy now is not to make the mistake they made in Victoria by alerting the public to a mandatory smart meter rollout and create public opposition. Better to do it on the quiet by creating the illusion that the concerned public has “the power of choice”.

    However, if you do not want your existing electricity meter being replaced with a smart meter while you are at work, take a precautionary approach and securely lock up your meter box with a window in the meter box door to allow the reading of the meters without having to unlock the meter box (photos available on request). If your electricity provider requests access to the meter, make sure that they do not install a new smart meter without your permission. If you are building a new home, ensure that the new electricity smart meter is located well away from bedroom areas, preferably on an outbuilding, such as a detached garage. They should NEVER be placed close to bedrooms or where people spend time in. For some examples of what can happen see my smart meter case histories.

    Note that the Queensland discussion paper avoids any mention of possible health issues and simply states A rollout of advanced meters would have to incorporate strong privacy protection for consumers

    Absolutely nothing about health protection……

    This reads more like spin.

    However there is an interesting statement in the discussion paper that indicates that concerns over the emissions given off by the Victorian smart meters are an issue to be considered in Queensland’s selection of the type of technology. See page 21, last paragraph where It states:

    “Other consumers oppose smart metering on the assumption that the communication technologies used in Victoria will be adopted here. This is not necessarily the case. Alternative technologies using existing electricity infrastructure and broadband internet are showing excellent potential to deliver the same results.”

    So, is Queensland considering bucking the trend in Australia and opting for a system that does not use smart meters that frequently emit radiation as the case in Victoria?

    You can find it on: http://www.dews.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/96485/supporting-material-discussion-paper.pdf

    Don Maisch

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