PM Julia Gillard endorses Smart Grid Smart City installation

PRIME Minister Julia Gillard endorsed the Smart Grid Smart City installation at Honeysuckle today as a prime example of the sort of technological advance that would help Australians reduce and manage their power use.

On a lightning visit to Newcastle, Ms Gillard met employees of Ausgrid and others involved with the Newcastle trial, which is one of a series of high-tech projects that the federal government has been funding to the tune of $100million since late 2010.

The Prime Minister chatted with a Wallsend householder Paul Jeffkins, whose house has been fitted with improvements including a ‘‘Redflow’’ battery to store electricity and a ‘‘Bluegen’’ gas fuel cell. The Jeffkins house is one of about 65 houses in Wallsend and Elermore Vale that have been fitted with energy saving devices as part of the trial.

He said his power and gas bills had been reduced considerably as a result.

Ausgrid paid the cost of the units but ‘‘they are like these (smart phones), once the technology is commercialised and the price comes down, they will be very viable’’.

Ms Gillard said she was very impressed with the Smart Grid Smart City project as a way of helping moderate household power costs.

And she continued her attack on state and territory governments, blaming them for driving up electricity costs by over-investing or ‘‘gold plating’’ the electricity system’s ‘‘poles and wires’’.

She also accused state governments of stripping too much money out of state-owned power companies in the form of unsustainably high dividend flows.

She said she was raising the issue now in order to have a solution in place for a Council of Australian Governments meeting later this year.

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