Canberra, Australia --- (METERING.COM) --- June 11, 2012 - Australia’s state and territory energy and resources ministers last week issued a directions statement setting the direction for the continued deployment of smart metering in locations where it is justified.

The ministers, meeting as the Standing Council on Energy and Resources (SCER), said they consider that smart meters, related technology and the products and services they support will be an important part of the transformation of the energy sector over the coming decade.

To meet the commitments on smart metering set out by the Council of Australian Government (COAG), the SCER intends to pursue three areas of work. One of these is to consider the implications of various smart meter deployment models, including the mandated distributor led rollout under the National Electricity Law. Potential implications include the likely scope of the delivery of new metering infrastructure, the availability of new services, the effect on retail competition, and recovery of costs from small customers.

The SCER also intends to complete the national framework for the deployment and use of smart meters in a way that caters for a range of deployment scenarios, including existing deployments and industry or consumer driven deployments. The next steps include development of the governance, implementation and transitional arrangements to maximize consumer benefits, minimize costs and ensure interoperability, and to optimize the integration of the Victorian rollout into the national framework.

The SCER will also develop a set of principles that will underpin the national framework for metering services, including smart meters and their associated services. Consistent with the Power of Choice review, which is still under consultation, these could include enabling consumers to obtain an appropriate metering solution where they want access to particular services and products, addressing the role of market participants in smart metering services, and managing risk of retailers using metering as an artificial barrier to retail churn.

The SCER noted that there have been significant developments in the rollout of smart metering and interval metering, and that a significant number of pilots and trials of smart meter"related technologies, products and services are underway in Australia. However, apart from Victoria, where a mandated rollout is under way, no other jurisdiction is expected to mandate a smart meter rollout in the next few years, although commercial and consumer-led deployments are possible.