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    Tasmania’s new electricity smart metering roll-out: Why opting out may be your wisest, and healthiest choice

    By Don Maisch PhD

    July 11, 2018

    Excerpt:

    On December 1, 2017, the Australian Energy Market Commission’s (AEMC) final rule determination, titled: “Expanding competition in metering and related services” came into force in Tasmania, SA, NSW, the ACT and QLD. The rule states that this is a framework which is designed to, “promote innovation and lead to investment in advanced meters that deliver services valued by consumers at a price they are willing to pay. Improved access to the services enabled by advanced meters will provide consumers with opportunities to better understand and take control of their electricity consumption and the costs associated with their usage decisions,

    This rule came about as a result of a request from the Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) Energy Council that considered that the previous metering rule allowed and encouraged the continued installation of mechanical analogue meters, which they said had “only limited functionality”.

    What this means is that over the next few years we will see a gradual replacement of the existing analogue electricity meters with so called advanced meters (also called digital or smart meters). These meters have the capacity to collect energy use data and send that back to the provider by a wireless network without the need for a meter reader going from house to house to collect that data. As for the uptake of advanced meters (smart meters), TasNetworks has estimated that presently (2017-2019) only about 4% residential and 12% small business customers have a smart meter. By 2024-29, it is expected that this will increase to 31% residential and 59% small business customers. By 2029-34, it is expected that all energy customers will have a smart meter.”

    As a result of opposition to the mandated introduction of smart meters in Victoria, including concerns over possible health impacts, the new AEMC rule gives Tasmanians (and in the other states mentioned above), the right to opt out, by contacting their energy provider (Aurora in Tasmania), stating that they do not want a communicating smart meter.

    As mechanical analogue meters are no longer available, the opt-out provision obviously does not apply to new connections, homes undergoing major renovations requiring new wiring, homes having solar panels connected to the grid, faulty existing meters requiring replacing, and “maintenance” replacements where testing has indicated that an analogue meter is at risk of becoming faulty.

    In these situations the only way the customer can avoid having a communicating smart meter installed on their premises is to notify by phone and in writing to Aurora that they wish to opt out and not have a wireless communicating smart meter (Type 4) but prefer a smart meter which is not enabled for wireless communications (Type 4A). Contact details are at the end of this paper.

    Type 4 and 4A smart meters

    The type 4 smart meter is read remotely via an inbuilt communications interface which transmits data in the radiofrequency (RF) spectrum without the need for a meter reader to come to the premises. It is only specified to store data for 35 days and is the preferred option for installation by the designated meter provider, unless prior notification otherwise is given by the building owner.

    The type 4A smart meter also has a communications interface but it is not enabled for wireless communication and comes with the extended capacity to store 200 days of data, which a meter reader must download directly from the meter.

    The roll-out in Victoria as a cautionary tale

    SNIP…

    Read the full paper here

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