Con­cern raised over smart power me­ters

Pilbara News - - News - Louise Alling­ham and Court­ney Fowler

Hori­zon Power’s roll-out of smart elec­tric­ity me­ters in Kar­ratha has raised con­cerns for some res­i­dents.

Al­ready in­stalled in two-thirds of Pil­bara prop­er­ties, the me­ters au­to­mat­i­cally record elec­tric­ity con­sump­tion and al­low Hori­zon to end es­ti­mated bills for cus­tomers with old me­ters in in­ac­ces­si­ble ar­eas of their prop­er­ties.

But as they were rolled out in the East Pil­bara, there were sev­eral claims they caused elec­tric­ity bills to rise and strug­gled in the re­gion’s high tem­per­a­tures.

Mar­ble Bar res­i­dent Dean Hatwell said he felt the me­ters were not suited to the ex­treme tem­per­a­tures of the Pil­bara and Kim­ber­ley, espe­cially when in­stalled in di­rect sun­light.

“As you would be aware, Mar­ble Bar re­cently had a run of 50 days where the tem­per­a­ture ex­ceeded 40C and I defy any­one to say that th­ese me­ters were made to with­stand th­ese ex­tremes,” he said.

Mr Hatwell said he knew of an or­gan­i­sa­tion that had re­ceived a power bill more than 2.5 times the av­er­age amount af­ter the smart me­ter was in­stalled.

Hori­zon Power as­sured cus­tomers the me­ters be­ing in­stalled through the State met Aus­tralian Stan­dards.

The me­ters are said to be able to op­er­ate in tem­per­a­tures as low as -20C or as high as 70C, even if those con­di­tions con­tinue for 72 hours.

“To re­as­sure our cus­tomers fur­ther, Hori­zon Power is in the process of build­ing our own ‘hot box’ to repli­cate the Mar­ble Bar heat to test the me­ter in the lab­o­ra­tory,” a spokes­woman said.

Lobby group Stop Smart Me­ters Aus­tralia claims the de­vices are a threat to pri­vacy, giv­ing the util­ity the abil­ity to read which ap­pli­ances are be­ing used on a prop­erty and at what times.

“If hack­ers get hold of the (in­for­ma­tion) — and smart me­ters are eas­ily hacked — they know if you’re home and that you have the lat­est model of Pana­sonic DVD recorder that is worth steal­ing,” a spokes­woman said.

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