Peter Batchelor,
Victoria Energy
& Resources Minister
 
Melbourne, Australia --- (METERING.COM) --- March 26, 2010 - A moratorium on the use of time-of-use pricing in Victoria has been introduced by the state government in order to ensure that Victorians are fully aware of these new pricing structures associated with smart meters.

The moratorium, effective immediately, was announced Monday by energy and resources minister Peter Batchelor, following an afternoon meeting with the Customer Consultation Working Group, comprising key consumer stakeholders including the Consumer Utilities Advocacy Centre, Victorian Council of Social Service, and St Vincent de Paul.

“The rollout of smart meters across Victoria is progressing well, but we are committed to ensuring the transition to a new pricing structure is managed carefully and sensibly,” said Batchelor. “Electricity distribution businesses have agreed to delay the introduction of time-of-use pricing until more work is done to protect vulnerable Victorians.”

Batchelor said the moratorium would enable a joint assessment between government, industry and consumer groups to ensure the current best practice consumer protection framework continued to apply, and to consider the need for electricity concessions in light of the costs of the rollout and potential equity impacts of the new tariff arrangements. Further it would allow examination of options for the introduction of time-of-use pricing arrangements, including a pilot pricing trial to assess impacts, and investigation of the need for an extensive consumer education campaign to provide clear information about smart meters and the new tariffs.

In this assessment the government would also take into account the findings of the regulatory review of smart meters currently being undertaken by the Essential Services Commission.

Under the smart meter rollout, 2.5 million smart meters will be installed over the next four years in all Victorian homes and small businesses.