Melbourne, Australia --- (METERING.COM) --- June 6, 2011 - Victoria’s Department of Treasury and Finance (DTF) has launched a review of the state’s advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) program, which will form input into a decision on the continuation or otherwise of the program.

The review, which was requested by the Minister for Energy and Resources and the Treasurer, is aimed to address issues that were raised by the Victorian auditor"general’s office in a 2009 report, in particular pertaining to the program’s costs and benefits.

In an issues paper the DTF is now asking for public comment on a number of issues pertaining to the regulatory framework, the technology, the sharing of benefits, and consumer protections, and in particular focused on estimating the identified cost and benefits of the program, realizing the identified benefits of the program, and future options to maximize and bring forward net benefits to consumers.

Specific issues include whether electricity distributors are appropriately incentivized to tightly manage project risks and minimize costs, whether the currently mandated minimum specifications of the smart meters are likely to fully realize the benefits identified and what additional specifications may be required, and How might an equitable distribution of benefits between consumers and industry be achieved?

It is possible that circumstances regarding these issues may have changed since earlier cost-benefit analyses were undertaken, or arguably these issues were not fully addressed in some previous reviews, says the DTF in the paper.

The DTF adds that as part of the review, it will be advising the Minister for Energy and Resources and the Treasurer on potential modifications to the scope, timing and other aspects of the program, in order to maximize and bring forward the net benefits. Other options that will be considered include modifications to the AMI rollout that could be implemented in the short and medium terms, and changes to existing regulatory and other frameworks supporting the program that could improve the likelihood that greater benefits will flow to consumers.

Submissions on the issues paper are due by Tuesday June 21, 2011.