Electricity giant AusNet Services plans to ask for a forecast $350 million extra from hundreds of thousands of customers over the next 15 years.
It overspent $70 million last year, and wants to pass on most of it. And it forecasts a further $280 million blowout by the end of next year.
It has applied to increase next year’s charges for the most common smart meter to $208.87 plus GST — $51.27 more than had been approved.
It blames the cost blowout on a public revolt against meter installations, government reviews that delayed the rollout, and major information technology system faults.
AusNet Services covers 670,000 customers in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs and the state’s east and northeast.
The smart meter rollout, ordered by the Labor government and continued by the Coalition after a review, is already costing Victorian households and small businesses a total of about $2.4 billion.
The Australian Energy Regulator, which allows excess expenditure claims to be passed on to consumers only if costs are “prudent and efficient”, has rejected previous technology cost-recovery attempts from AusNet Services.
The Consumer Action Law Centre said that unreasonable cash grabs had to be resisted.
“This company seems to have continual blowouts in expenditure, and expects consumers to foot the bill,” spokesman Gerard Brody said.
Jemena’s proposed smart meter charge for next year is $231.28, $11.38 more than previously approved. United Energy wants to charge $160.44, down $4.58 on previous plans.
Proposals for a $115.49 CitiPower and $108.96 Powercor fee are lower than forecast.
The regulator is reviewing the company’s requests.
Documents submitted to the regulator reveal United Energy overspent $53.5 million last year, and Jemena $25.7 million. But they said their total project costs and charges remained close to budget because of earlier lower-than-expected spending.
Karen Collier, Herald Sun