Canberra, Australia --- (METERING.COM) --- November 9, 2012 - Smart meter functions, such as remote reading, the automated control of appliances, and the provision of timelier energy use information to guide consumer decision making, need to be applied more effectively, according to Australia’s newly released Energy White Paper.

These should draw on lessons from trials such as the Smart Grid, Smart City and Solar Cities programs and major deployments such as the Victorian rollout of smart meters – the only state mandated rollout to date.

In this context, the White Paper notes, the Standing Council on Energy and Resources is developing a flexible national framework to guide the deployment and use of smart meters. This framework will promote a minimum level of national consistency, provide a basic level of functionality without stifling innovation in more advanced options, and set out the required market structures that support deployment in ways that are in the best interests of consumers.

Facilitating a market-driven rollout of smart meters in which providers negotiate deployment and costs directly with consumers may be a way to overcome concerns about mandated approaches, the White Paper continues. For example, retailers are increasingly likely to see smart meters as a point of differentiation with customers as part of combined energy management and structured tariff packages. This would not preclude jurisdictions mandating rollouts where the benefits outweigh the costs.

The Energy White Paper is aimed to guide the transformation of the Australia’s energy sector. Over the next two decades, the sector is expected to be dominated by three factors – the need to deliver secure and competitively priced energy for its growing population and economy, the further expansion of energy exports to Asia and other markets, and the need to become more energy efficient and to dramatically reduce carbon emissions. As a result the country’s energy production is projected to more than double in that time.

The White Paper identifies four priority action areas:

  1. Delivering better energy market outcomes for consumers
  2. Accelerating the clean energy transformation
  3. Developing Australia's critical energy resources, particularly gas resources
  4. Strengthening the resilience of Australia's energy policy framework.

The deployment of smart meters, along with demand side opportunities, other advanced energy management applications and smart appliances will enable consumers to participate in the energy market and are a key area of action for better market outcomes. Other key actions are to deregulate retail price controls and to develop national guidelines on microgeneration feed-in tariffs.

The White Paper also notes that the Smart Grid, Smart City project is expected to provide important information to policymakers and the energy sector from mid 2012 to inform the potential wider deployment of smart grid technologies.