Stop Smart Meters Australia (SSMA) raised concerns last year about the rollout of smart water meters in Victoria in a letter to the Hon Lisa Neville, Minister for Water. SSMA also posed a number of questions, on behalf of members and followers, to the Minister.
The Minister asked an Executive Director at the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) to reply on her behalf. The response was emailed to SSMA on the eve of the 2018 Victorian State election.
The government’s reply fails to explain its role in the rollout of water smart meters, other than to state that “Victorian Government approval is required prior to any broad introduction of new digital water metering technology” and that the “Victorian Government is regularly briefed on the progress of digital meter trials, including customer feedback and business case considerations”.
This hands-off approach appears to be another case of déjà vu for long-suffering Victorian utility customers.
If the government had done its due diligence in the first place, Victorians would NEVER have been subjected to the mandated rollout of electricity smart meters to every household and small business (as opposed to the due diligence conducted by other states). The cost-benefit justification for the rollout of electricity smart meters turned out to be little more than a Victorian Labor Government thought bubble.
Instead, Victorians have been burdened with increased costs as a result of the transition to electricity smart meters. As reported in Deloitte’s 2011 report titled Advanced metering infrastructure cost benefit analysis, “Over 2008-28, the Victorian AMI Program will result in net costs to customers of $319 million [in 2008 dollars]”. SSMA asks how much greater would these net costs be if the impact of adverse health effects arising from the rollout of smart meters were included? And how much more would the net costs be if the benefits which were supposed to accrue as a result of the rollout (and, often, didn’t!) were to be revisited and verified?
The Victorian Auditor-General’s 2009 report slammed the government department overseeing Victoria’s ill-fated multibillion-dollar rollout of smart meters. The report stated that “Given the significant uncertainty about the cost of AMI [advanced metering infrastructure] to both industry and consumers, as well as the nature and scale of the market intervention, the project always warranted much stronger departmental governance and central oversight”.
Are Victorians now to have water smart meters foisted upon them again as a result of a lack of adequate government oversight? Worryingly, if we wanted more information, SSMA was referred to a person listed as being an employee at one of the water corporations. Is this another case of the Victorian Labor Government being asleep at the wheel?
Please note, at the request of the government, its response has been redacted. Specifically, the government, in a reply sent on Christmas Eve in response to an email from SSMA asking permission to publish its letter, stated “Please remove all personal details in the letter including all names, position titles and signatures before any [sic] publishing it on your website”.
Previous posts that SSMA has done on the rollout of water smart meters include:
Look out Victorian water customers – your utility may be rolling out smart meters!
Water authorities rolling out wireless smart meters!
Smart water meter “trials” have commenced!