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All government parties are supporting smart grid, more large scale roll outs like Victoria to follow

All government parties are supporting smart grid, more large scale roll outs like Victoria to follow

On the day of the Federal Budget, all major political parties have left the door open to continue to back projects aimed at improving the efficiency of electricity usage, echoing that Australia’s nascent energy smart grid may continue to enjoy federal government support.

Since 2010 up to 30,000 households have participated in the multiyear Ausgrid-led $100 million Smart Grid, Smart City project. It aims to build a business case for key smart grid applications and technologies, and gather data to guide broader adoption.

The initiative draws to a close in September, with the major analysis due in early 2014. ”A series of research projects are being done ahead of the final release of the outcomes, the most significant being an integrated cost-benefit analysis to address the total benefits of all technologies,” an Ausgrid spokesman said.

“A series of research projects are being done ahead of the final release of the outcomes, the most significant being an integrated cost-benefit analysis to address the total benefits of all technologies,” an Ausgrid spokesperson highlighted.

Smart grids involve the deployment of new technologies such as smart meters across electricity networks, and analytics tools to assess the data captured.

While there are several smart grid pilots in Australia and a large-scale rollout in Victoria, the Canberra-funded project has been considered one of the most important in informing decisions on future investment.

But it is unlikely the major parties will wait for the final findings finalising their policies. Minister for Resources and Energy, Gary Gray, who is a supporter of the Smart Grids projects, would not say what Labor’s position would be or if additional investment would be made. But he has not ruled out an announcement before the election.

Shadow energy minister Ian Macfarlane committed – to an evaluation of the effectiveness of the project should it win power in September.

Green’s leader Christine Milne said the party would release its position closer to the election.

“The Greens agree with the view that smart grids are inevitable, but the rollout to date has been disappointingly slow,” she said.  “Government has a role to play in hastening this process. The Greens do believe that smart grids can deliver considerable benefits to providers and consumers providing there is adequate consumer protection.

“We need to learn the lessons from Victoria, for example, where many households, particularly low income households, unfairly faced higher energy bills. These mistakes must not be repeated.”

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