TWO out of five electricity smart meters are not fully working despite Victorians paying $100-$220 in meter fees each year.
A Herald Sun analysis has exposed problems with the rollout of the devices, raising fears they may end up costing billions without delivering promised cost savings.
Industry sources and analysis of public documents about the $2 billion program reveal:
TECHNICIANS say they have had to wear thick gloves while servicing the machines because some meter parts may overheat.
METERING fees will cost consumers $450-$740 over the next four years, depending on where they live.
THE Government has ordered a review of rules governing in-home displays of power use, fearing they could be used to bombard households with cyber spam.
The Department of Primary Industries conceded to the Herald Sun that only 60 per cent of the meters, which all Victorians have been paying for since 2009, are working properly.
It says this is because of “an absence of fully working communications infrastructure”.
The DPI says about 75 per cent of the installed meters will be set up for remote reading by April.
Households and small businesses will pay smart meter charges of $1.1 billion in electricity bills in the next four years.
After an independent review last year, the Baillieu Government decided to keep the meters, which it criticised in Opposition.
The review emphasised that public acceptance and government support for the meters was crucial.
If enough people failed to sign up for new types of tariffs, there would be next to no benefit — only a massive cost to all Victorians.
The Consumer Action Law Centre’s Janine Rayner said smart meters had created widespread concern because of the cost and a serious failure to explain their role.
She warned strict controls were needed to stop customers being bombarded with electronic junk mail through in-house displays.
A Coalition spokesman said it couldn’t fix all the problems left by Labor.
But he promised “delivering benefits for consumers will now be the highest priority of this program”.