Smart meter technology to drive up the costs of power

 

Direct from our Canberra Correspondent

THE cost of cooling your home and cooking dinner would increase under a new Gillard government power proposal.

Charging consumers more for electricity during the evening peak, and less at other times, is among a raft of "policy options" contained in a draft paper submitted for approval

The plan would involve a statewide rollout of so-called "smart meters", which have caused anger among some consumers whose bills have risen sharply. Other proposals put forward in the paper include minimum energy standards for appliances, rebates and green building regulations.

There is also a bizarre plan allowing energy companies to remotely control home airconditioners in high-demand periods in return for a discount at other times - a move experts say would hit western Sydney hard.

We're paying high price for Greens

A PATTERN is beginning to emerge, just over one year since the federal Greens entered into a power-sharing arrangement.

After the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency released the consultation paper for a proposed national energy savings initiative, acting Greens leader Christine Milne claimed it was "another great Greens idea coming to fruition".

The push for a new green scheme would, according to the paper, "complement" the carbon tax, which will add $171 to power bills and would come on top of the existing renewable energy target scheme which added $100 to power bills this year. Smart meters monitor electricity usage in 30-minute intervals and feed information back to the energy company.

Determinants of demand - power consumption comparator
 

Some families in new homes with so-called smart meters are already on time-of-use tariffs where, between 2pm and 8pm, they pay 44c a kilowatt hour - twice the flat rate.

Energy Australia was forced to allow 200,000 households in NSW to revert to a flat rate if they wanted to after time-of-use charging hurt those who were at home during the peak period - new parents, pensioners and the disabled.

Energy Australia claimed 70 per cent of households were better off with smart meters.

But research by St Vincent De Paul has shown time-of-use charging imposes double-digit increases on young families and the welfare-dependent.

Businesses who fail to meet targets could be hit with penalties and the paper conceded "obligated parties will pass through to their consumers some or all of the costs of meeting the obligation".

Senator Milne said: "For too long, governments, businesses and householders haven't tackled our hugely wasteful use of energy because there has been no clear and urgent driver to do so." She said a target for energy use reduction should be set at 3 per cent a year.

Energy Users Association executive director Roman Domanski said similar schemes in Australia and overseas had produced limited benefits. He said time-of-use pricing would be more pronounced in hotter areas of Sydney - the west.

"If the government introduces a scheme like that, it is going to increase bills," he said.

"We're now going to have a carbon price that is going to encourage people, supposedly, to lower emissions and also reduce the amount of energy people use so we wonder why you need one of these sorts of schemes to push electricity prices up even more."

Remember  that  the actual benefits to consumers of these smart meters is suggestive to say the least. It is also a fact that the original designs and supply of these meters is by the Iowa  Electric Co USA of which  Al Gore is a share holder . Ref  Updates  Sept/2010  [ Al Gore t