Aus2New South Wales, Australia --- (METERING.COM) --- July 19, 2006 – New South Wales utility Energy Australia has announced that it is to start a test of smart meters among 10,000 of its customers before the end of the year.

The test forms part of a initiative to instal half a million smart meters at a cost of Aus$100 million (US$ 74 million) up to the end of the current regulation period in 2009.

George Maltabarow, managing director of Energy Australia, says that the new smart meters will revolutionize the utility’s ability to service its customers. “The fact that we will be able to get 30-minute interval data means that customers will be able to have tailor-made pricing.”

Energy Australia currently has 260,000 customers using smart meters, with 50,000 customers on time-of-use tariff plans. However these smart meters lack the communications functions that will feature in the new generation meters.

These plans of Energy Australia are among a growing list of smart metering projects around Australia. The technology is also being supported at the highest level and just last week prime minister John Howard sent a letter to the Council of Australian Governments pushing for the development of the smart metering technology.

At its February meeting the COAG, aiming to improve price signals for energy consumers and investors, committed to a national rollout of smart meters from 2007, in order to allow the introduction of time of day pricing and to allow users to better manage their demand for peak power.

Smart meters have the potential to become a Aus$2 billion (US$ 1.5 billion) industry in Australia over the next few years, but providing energy savings up to Aus$3 billion (US$ 2.2billion).