Concern raised over smart power meters
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.