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You can say no

A MELBOURNE barrister has contradicted assertions made by electricity supplier SP Ausnet, which claims people cannot say no to smart meters.

“A customer is not able to defer or refuse a smart meter installation,” an SP Ausnet spokesman told The Star.

“A customer is required to provide convenient and unhindered access to metering equipment and associated equipment on their premises for any purpose associated with the supply, metering or billing of electricity and safe access to and within their premises.”

The lawyer in question was unwilling to comment on his findings when The Star called, but working on behalf of Broadmeadows Progress Association, he found: “…it appears there is currently no statute that requires a domestic electricity consumer to allow a distributor onto their premises to remove an analogue meter and install a smart meter”.

Neither could the State Government point to a specific legislation which said consumers were compelled to have smart meters.

The Department of Environment and Primary Industries website said the government had “mandated that all residential and small business electricity customers in Melbourne and throughout the state must have a smart meter installed by the end of 2013”.

But a lawyer who spoke to The Star said “mandated” was different to actually passing a specific law that compelled people to accept the smart meters.

A government spokesperson told The Star: “Consumers and electricity distributors are required to abide by rights and obligations set out in the Essential Services Commission’s Electricity Distribution Code and the Electricity Industry Act 2000”.

“Meters are owned by the electricity distribution companies, and under the code, a customer must provide convenient and unhindered access to the distributor’s equipment for purposes associated with the supply of electricity,” he said.

Other legal experts contacted by The Star said the labyrinth code would need to dissected in full – a process that would take hours – to ascertain whether electricity companies and the government could compel customers to accept the technology.

On the face of it, however, there seems to be nothing specific in the legislation that says they must.

South Gippsland has become an enclave of resistance to the technology, with many residents voicing their opposition to the instillations, citing fears of cancer and other serious illnesses.

But SP Ausnet is not taking no for an answer.

A company spokesman said he could not say how many people had objected to smart meters.

“The vast majority of customers that contact us or talk to an installer are not actually opposition. They are just unaware of their rights and responsibilities, the rollout itself, and are often misinformed,” he said.

“When customers are provided with factual and useful information about smart meters, we have found we actually have very little opposition.

“We only have a few customers that continue to provide significant opposition to the rollout across our network of over 700,000 customers.”

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=7413

Posted by on Jun 19 2013. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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