Melbourne, Australia --- (METERING.COM) --- September 30, 2008 - A postponement of the rollout of smart meters and changes in the minimum functionality and service levels in Victoria have been made to ensure the state’s meters can be integrated with a national rollout.

The rollout will now commence in mid-2009, instead of at the start of the year, to enable the industry to prepare for the new meters. The new completion date will be the end of 2013, which is a year later than previously envisaged and extends the rollout period by six months.

Making the announcement acting energy and resources minister Joe Helper said the smart meter infrastructure that will be installed in Victoria will focus initially on four core services that will be of most benefit to consumers. These are half-hourly reading of meters, remote collection of data – with daily delivery of this data to retailers and the market no later than January 1, 2012 – and remote connection and disconnection of supply.

Other minimum functionalities that will be included in all meters are time clock synchronization, load control, loss of supply and outage detection, quality of supply and other event recording, supply capacity control, interface to a home area network with ZigBee, tamper detection, communications and data security, remote firmware upgrading, and self registration of meters.

“The changes will ensure the rollout provides a valuable tool for Victorian consumers, while ensuring the system can be fully integrated in the future into a national scheme,” said Helper.

Under the new timeline a minimum of 5 percent of meters are required to be installed by June 30, 2010, 25 percent by June 30, 2011, 60 percent by June 30, 2012, and 95 percent by June 30, 2013.

John Dawkins, chair of the Industry Steering Committee for smart meters, has welcomed these developments. “The revised timetable and service levels mean less risk for industry and improves the chances of greater national consistency in smart metering,” Dawkins said.

Alongside the announcement, and following a request from the Victorian government, the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) has also published a draft rule change to the national electricity rules establishing the electric distributors as the party responsible for the rollout of smart meters in the state.

“The Commission is of the view that the draft rule … provides for a certain, predictable and accelerated rollout of AMI, thereby meeting the Victorian government’s policy,” it said. “An accelerated rollout of AMI would enable a number of efficiency benefits to be realized. These benefits would not be available to the same extent and as rapidly under a retailer mandated rollout of AMI.”

This draft rule is now open to consultation.