16 December 2011

Tough talk on Victoria's smart meters

VICTORIANS will be forced to get smart meters or risk having their power cut off if they repeatedly resist.

Householders no longer have the right to refuse to have the controversial meters installed after the State Government yesterday confirmed the roll-out would continue and declared the meters safe.

Tens of thousands of households who have already rejected the technology by deferring installations will no longer have that option.

Almost 90,000 of the more than 900,000 customers approached by installers so far have turned them away.

Energy Minister Michael O'Brien yesterday revealed the project cost was now expected to hit $2.3 billion - almost triple the original price tag.

The Baillieu Government yesterday released an audit, along with a safety and privacy impact assessment - a further $433,500 cost to taxpayers.

As revealed in the Herald Sun, the meters will be fitted to 2.6 million homes and businesses by the end of 2013 after the final review found too much money had already been spent on the scheme started by the former Labor government.

Mr O'Brien said power distribution companies, which owned the meters and had an obligation to roll them out, would treat customers "sensitively".

Government spokesman Paul Price last night said although power companies did not expect they would have to cut off people, this was an option in extreme cases.

CitiPower spokesman Hugo Armstrong said disconnecting power was a last resort.

"Nobody is going to be cut off in a hurry. The distributors are absolutely committed to working with customers to meet the Government's requirements."

There would be "extensive communication with customers" before that was considered.

The smart meter review reveals customers will not fully claw back the cost of the scheme through promised benefits such as new optional "time-of-use" tariffs that charge customers more at peak times, and restricted supply to appliances.

The review also reveals wrangling over legal liability if people on life support are remotely disconnected or fires are caused by power connection to unsafe homes.

The smart meter bill could also climb "substantially" if there were hitches with the performance of the technology and radio frequency changes.

Despite this, the Baillieu Government is forging ahead, saying it had no option after Labor's mismanagement blew out costs and allowed electricity companies to grossly overspend by up to 20 per cent.

Mr O'Brien pledged to toughen regulation so that power companies would not be able to automatically overspend in future.

The audit estimates the program will result in net costs to customers of $319 million.

Mr O'Brien, who pledged the review and dubbed the project the "myki of metering" while in Opposition and has "grieved" for suffering smart meter consumers, denied voters had been conned.

"If the report had said it was in the best interests of consumers to scrap it, we would have scrapped it," he said.

Energy Retailers Association of Australia spokesman Cameron O'Reilly supported the continued roll-out.

"While we recognise there may be some scepticism about smart meters, the technology helps customers better manage their energy use," he said.

heraldsun.com.au 15 Dec 2011

Another corporate fraud supported by government, irrespective if it's labour or liberal.

The (forceful) installation of smart meters was against the law so, governments are no changing the laws to accommodate consumer rip off, and more corporate fraud.

It has been proven that the smart meters emit radiation that is at an unsafe level, yet still they will be installed by authorities.

The public have verbosely made it clear that they do no wish this installation to proceed, yet again the government will be forcefully installing them.

Another government supported scam.

Apparently in a democracy you have a choice, whereas in a dictatorship you do not.

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