By Alison Savage. PHOTO: A fire that damaged a Northcote home on the weekend is being blamed on the smart meter. (ABC: News)
Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu has again defended the roll-out of smart meters, amid concerns they are causing a growing number of house fires.
The meters will be installed in every home and business in Victoria by the end of next year, after the State Government decided to back the program last year after a review.
The smart meters measure electricity consumption on an hourly basis to more accurately reflect the amount used.
So far this month, there have been three fires in fuse boxes with smart meters.
Last year the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) was asked to review those fires.
The review concluded they were not caused the the smart meters themselves, although they could have been caused by issues surrounding installation.
Hamish Fitzsimmons, an ABC reporter for Lateline, raised concerns about the meters after a fire at his Northcote home on the weekend.
Mr Fitzsimmons says the fire, which started behind the smart meter, caused extensive damage to at least one room of the house.
He says City Power, which installed the meter, has denied responsibility.
The Premier has offered to have the home independently inspected.
Mr Baillieu says many of the issues are linked to problems with installation, rather than the meters themselves.
“The smart meter itself has been thoroughly examined and they are, in my view, safe,” he told ABC local radio.
However Mr Baillieu says there are known service use connection issues in older houses affecting the addition of extra electricity loads and heat.
He denies it is similar to the Federal Government home insulation program where incorrectly installed insulation led to a number of fatal fires.
“There is a requirement for training and qualification for anybody installing a smart meter,” he said.
Meanwhile, a smart meter installer is facing a possible fine of $30,000 after being charged with using dodgy equipment.
Energy Save Victoria has charged an Ormond man with installing equipment that is unsafe and not testing it.
The charges relate to an installation at Highett in January last year, which is believed to have caused a fire in March.