A NSW discussion paper has recommended the state introduce a “market-led” rollout of electricity smart meters, saying it would be costly to taxpayers and consumers if the system was mandated by government.
NSW Energy Minister Chris Hartcher on Tuesday released the discussion paper from the Smart Meter Task Force, which warned against a Victorian-styled government rollout.
The controversial Victorian scheme was initially expected to cost $800 million, but the latest estimates have seen that blow out to more than $2.3 billion.
In Victoria the smart meters have also been linked with unpopular time-of-use pricing, which charges consumers more for usage in peak periods.
The NSW government task force said a mandated introduction of the meters would “almost certainly” lead to higher consumer prices, while the state would also be saddled with the cost of the rollout.
On the other hand, it said a voluntary “market-led” approach would lead to lower take-up costs, and would encourage energy companies to develop innovative products for consumers.
Mr Hartcher said NSW was against any mandated rollout of smart meters, which typically record usage information half-hourly, giving consumers a more detailed picture of their energy consumption.
The meters also transmit that information to power companies on a daily basis.
“The NSW Government has learnt from the Victorian experience and does not advocate a mandated approach as pursued by the Victorian Government, but believes a market-based approach may have a role to play,” Mr Hartcher said in a statement.
“Energy businesses should have flexibility to offer innovative products that customers want, not ones that a government has forced upon them.
“Not all households will benefit equally from smart meters – different households will have different consumption patterns – and the NSW Government is keen to ensure that low income households and vulnerable customers are not impacted adversely by any potential introduction of smart meters.”
Public submissions on the discussion paper will close on February 28, Mr Hartcher said.
Time to move to NSW!