Jemena blames politics for smart meter confusion

One of the largest network operators in Victoria has criticised state  governments in Victoria and New South Wales over their handling of the debate  about the roll-out of smart meters.

Jemena, which provides electricity to 319,000 homes and businesses across  north-west Melbourne, said the Victorian government under Ted Baillieu had  failed to back the $2.3 billion program for political reasons.

An earlier version of the program introduced by Labor premier John Brumby  used simpler devices and would have cost $850 million.

The larger sum, along with Wonthaggi desalination plant and the Myki transit  card, became key election fodder for the Coalition and they have continued to  wield it, Scott Parker, Jemena’s general manager corporate affairs,

The government was happy to attend launches of online portals by firms such  as Jemena that show how households could save money from the meters, he  said.

“But it won’t get up there and defend the integrity of the program, and will  still call it a program whose budget blew out under the previous government – and no such thing happened – but it’s not in their political interest to say  otherwise.”

Victoria’s Energy and Resource Minister Michael O’Brien, though, said the  state’s Auditor-General had found a “massive smart meter cost blowout” during  the former government’s watch.

“The Coalition Government independently  reviewed the program,” Mr O’Brien said in a statement. “As a result we are  reining-in the costs and bringing forward the benefits of smart meters to  consumers.”

The Baillieu government decided a year ago to proceed with the mandatory  state-wide introduction of the intelligent metering device – which provides  two-way communication between the consumer and the energy provider – but had  provided textbook “learnings” that other states would do well to study, Mr  Parker said.

“The big thing was that smart meters needed to be rolled out in conjunction  with time-of-use pricing … so that people can see the benefit.”

Instead, the government introduced a moratorium on more flexible pricing in  the state six months after the first meter installed, leaving consumers confused  and opposed to the meters. From next July, Victorians will have the option to  choose variable pricing from peak to shoulder and off-peak rates.

“The Coalition Government is determined to make smart meters start to pay  their way, after years of mismanagement by Labor,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Victoria will be the first State to introduce widespread access to flexible  pricing and off-peak rates from mid-2013”.

NSW view

Mr Parker said comments reported  today in Fairfax Media that NSW’s Energy Minister Chris Hartcher was  considering introducing smart meters on a voluntary basis foreshadowed far  higher costs for the state than a mandatory roll-out.

“If you think there are significant cost pressures on the system now, and  you’re going to run two metering systems, you’ve seen nothing ,” Mr Parker  said.

Singapore-owned Jemena is also critical of the Victoria government’s mixed  signalling on whether the new meters would be mandatory or not. In May last  year, Premier Baillieu said on radio that people could defer installation of the  meters, comments that have been repeated time and again.

“That played all sorts of havoc,” Mr Parker said, adding that the government  doesn’t understand how much disruption the comments had caused the whole  industry.

As a result, Jemena still has about 170,000 homes and businesses to connect  by the end of next year, with financial penalties if the target isn’t met.

“It’s going to be a real challenge” meeting the goal, Mr Parker said, adding  that the company was yet to formally seek an extension.

Jemena supports policy

Jemena later issued a media statement distancing the company from Mr Parker’s  comments.

“Jemena  in no way endorses any of the comments reported in the article and   confirms that it remains completely supportive of the smart meter  program and  the Baillieu Government’s role in leading the program,”  Managing Director Paul  Adams said in the statement.

“Jemena  has consistently and publicly supported the program for over three  years  and has promoted its benefits to customers publicly on numerous   occasions in recent months,” Mr Adams said.


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7 Responses to Jemena blames politics for smart meter confusion

  1. Cedar Wilde says:

    These companies are so predictable, they drag in Myki and the desal plant to try and confuse us. (Notice they don’t say anything about Tobacco and Asbestos!) Of course Jemena (and the others) are going to lash out at anyone and anything that threatens their profiteering. That is to be expected but we need to make sure we examine everything they say very carefully and not get sucked in. Bribery, name-calling and threats are part of the usual arsenal of vested interests. Why should our pollies “defend the integrity of the program” when it doesn’t have any integrity? Not that our pollies have done us any good – most of them. I can’t see any benefits to consumers for all Mr O’Briens talk.
    And Jemena “distances itself from the comments of Mr Parker”, yet more predictability! Admit it Jemena, anyone can be a scapegoat, you are in it for the money, not for any humanitarian purpose, it isn’t going to benefit us no matter how you package it. (This is one of the reasons governments reduce spending on education, they don’t want us to understand what the issues really are, while they and their industrial buddies laugh all the way to the bank).

  2. Freddie says:

    ‘SMART Meter’ – a tragic EUPHEMISM!

  3. Anonymous says:

    whatever happened to freedom of choice? I don’t want a smart meter, yet I am being forced to take one, plus I am being charged for the very thing I don’t want!

  4. Anonymous says:

    “The Coalition Government is determined to make smart meters start to pay their way, after years of mismanagement by Labor,” Mr O’Brien said.

    This is a person that just doesn’t want to know about the terrible chronic headaches that people are having to live with, the most sick feeling of nausea that comes when Jemena cranks up the signal strength, the tremors and other neurological issues that are being triggered off in people living near a smart meter. Michael O’Brien has no interest whatsoever.

    This is what thename of the game is right now
    “As a result, Jemena still has about 170,000 homes and businesses to connect by the end of next year, with financial penalties if the target isn’t met.”

    The govt says the installation of smart meters are a matter between the distributor and the customer whilst at the same time threatening to fine the distributors heavily if they don’t fulfill the mandate.

    I have a strong instinctive feeling that Jemena have turned down the wireless communication signal strength of their smart meters to try and reduce the number of people that are feeling ill effects and hence the number of complaints. This would be purely a strategic move which I feel is to lull the public into a FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY hence facilitating less resistance from them and the furtherance of progress in Jemena’s ruthless quest to complete the installation these abominable devices in the many outstanding places that they have yet to make inroads.

    When they have many more of their stinking devices installed, it will suit them to increase the signal strength right back up again. Having those devices throttling at full pelt is what will give them the most stable wireless network. And boy when they are running full pelt they can really pulse and pulse and pulse. When they crank up the power, many of us are going to be absolutely screaming with pain and ill health and I believe it will be to the extent that some will even experience heating effects. And I guarantee that those at Jemena will not even bat an eyelid.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I will be glad to see the day when corporation Jemena is no more, just ashes and embers

  6. Terry says:

    And so the ‘Blame Game’ has started? I think Bailleau and the power companies are starting to realise not all the people of Victoria are thickheads and can actually think for themselves. I was amused to read in one part where the meters were described as ‘Intelligent Meters’. More than we can say for the state government and power companies, eh? As for smart meters being of benefit to consumers…now there’s a laugh!

  7. Lindy-loo says:

    It all boils down to money money money, don’t worry about the health issues. So many people are suffering from these meters. Can’t the powers to be see that?
    It makes me sick (literally) to see politics been used in this case, where the health of so many are not considered!

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