Meters are your retailer’s responsibility

Under the AEMC’s Competition in metering rules, which started in December 2017, all new meters must be advanced or ‘smart’. Introducing competition in providing advanced meters helps put downward pressure on the cost of these services.

Also, retailers - not distribution network businesses - now have overall responsibility for metering services and are the single point of contact for customers.

The new rules apply to customers in New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and South Australia. Victorian customers are covered by state regulation that places responsibility for metering with the local distribution businesses.

Benefits of advanced meters

Advanced meters help get the most out of new technologies like rooftop solar, storage and energy efficient appliances. For example, advanced meters enable ‘demand response’. This is when consumers are paid to use less energy by switching off appliances or drawing power from their solar panels or battery storage instead of the grid. This helps the power system cope with heatwaves and avoid blackouts.

Advanced meters can also give information about energy consumed by new ‘smart’ appliances – making it easier for consumers to move their use to off-peak times if they choose.

All advanced meters now come with the ability to communicate remotely, which means that they can send and receive electricity data. This is important because: 

  • it enables electricity retailers to calculate accurate bills, instead of relying on manual meter reads
  • customers can choose to access a wider variety of services - such as in-home displays or demand response programs - to help better manage electricity use and costs
  • it makes it simpler and easier to identify if a meter has stopped working and needs to be repaired
  • it can help distribution networks better understand the performance of their network, including when a power outage has occurred.

Getting a new or replacement meter: things to know

If your retailer offers you an advanced meter

Your retailer may offer you an advanced meter, or a product or service that needs an advanced meter such as the ability to receive alerts during heatwaves to reduce your energy use in return for a payment. If you don’t want an advanced meter, you can opt out. Your retailer must tell you how to opt out and give you time to do so.

If your meter is faulty

If your meter is no longer working, it will need to be replaced. Your retailer will replace the faulty meter with an advanced meter. They will contact you to explain when this will happen. For residential and most small business customers, the faulty meter must be replaced within 15 business days of the problem being identified.

If you are building a new house with a new connection point

All new connections need to have an advanced meter. Your retailer must install the meter either at a time agreed with you, or within six business days of being informed that the connection work is complete. The local distribution network business is usually responsible for doing the connection work and informing the retailer when it is finished. In NSW, an accredited service provider may also do this.

This six day timeframe applies if a customer has an agreement with their retailer for the meter to be installed but they have not agreed on a preferred time.

If you would like to upgrade to an advanced meter

You may need to upgrade to an advanced meter when installing new appliances like an pool pump or a solar PV system, or for more complex changes that also require an upgrade to your connection services like installing an electric vehicle charging station.  

The first step is to ask your retailer if they will install an advanced meter at your property. If they can’t, you may want to shop around to see if other retailers will do it.

If the retailer agrees to install your meter, and you have provided consent for any terms and conditions that might accompany the meter installation, they will need to complete the installation either at a time agreed with you or within 15 business days.

Providing access so your new meter can be installed

In some cases, a meter installer may not be able to complete the installation on the day. For example, this could be because:

  • the site is not accessible, safe or ready for the meter to be installed
  • installing the meter requires interrupting supply to other retailers’ customers. If turning off the power will impact other properties, your retailer may need more time to make sure neighbours get appropriate notification.

If this occurs your retailer should provide you with help to resolve the issue. Once the issue has been resolved, the retailer will need to install your meter within the 15 day timeframe or at a time as agreed with you.

Meters for small business customers

For small business customers, your electricity retailer will need to install your meter within the same maximum timeframes (ie. six business days for new meters and 15 business days for upgrades and replacement meters).

These timeframes apply if you have requested a meter, your business is located in NSW, Queensland, Tasmania, the ACT or South Australia and your annual electricity usage is less than:

Location

Maximum annual electricity consumption

Queensland, NSW and ACT

100MWh

Tasmania

150MWh

South Australia

160 MWh

The timeframes will not apply if:

  • your business has annual electricity consumption larger than the thresholds in the table, or
  • you have entered into an aggregated electricity consumption agreement with your retailer for the relevant premises.

Changing retailers

Getting a new advanced meter will not stop you from switching energy retailers. If you are unhappy with the terms of your current energy contract or the service you receive, we encourage you to shop around to find a better deal.

You can visit www.energymadeeasy.gov.au - an Australian Government website that helps customers compare the generally available electricity offers in their local area, and has tools and practical advice on what to think about when deciding on an offer.

Providing safe access to your property

You must give your retailer or their contractor safe access to your premises to install a new or replacement meter.

Your retailer is allowed to disconnect your electricity if:

  • they have visited your premises and have found it unsafe to install the meter, and
  • they have given you a disconnection warning notice providing the reason why you may be disconnected, and
  • you don’t fix the safety issue.

You must also provide safe access to your premises if your retailer needs to test, maintain, inspect or alter the meter or check its accuracy.

Opting out of getting an advanced meter

The ability to opt out of getting an advanced meter only applies when your retailer is rolling out advanced meters as part of a new deployment. It does not apply when your retailer is replacing a meter that is faulty.

If your retailer offers you an advanced meter - and there’s nothing wrong with your existing meter - they must give you a chance to opt out of having the meter replaced. This applies unless you have already waived your right to opt out when signing up to your energy contract.

Before the meter is changed, your retailer must give you two written notices:

  • between 60 and 25 business days before they propose to replace the meter, and
  • at least 10 days after the first notice, and no less than 15 business days before the proposed date to replace the meter.

In these letters, your retailer must tell you:

  • that you can opt out of the new meter
  • instructions on how to opt out
  • the expected date and time for the meter replacement
  • the last opportunity you will have to opt out, which must be no earlier than seven days before the retailer roll out
  • any upfront charges you will incur
  • their contact details.

Opting out of remote communications

If you don’t want your meter to have remote communication capabilities, you can ask for these capabilities to be turned off - either within your existing meter or as part of a new meter installation. You should contact your retailer or meter installer to lodge this request. There may be ongoing costs associated with this.

Metering issues: where to get help

In the first instance, contact your retailer. Tell them what the problem is, and how you want it fixed. Keep a record - such as the date of contact, who you spoke to and what was discussed.

If it isn’t resolved, you can contact your local energy ombudsman who helps fix problems between customers and retailers. You do not have to pay to use the ombudsman.

Energy ombudsman contact details

  • Australian Capital Territory - ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal - 02 6207 1740
  • New South Wales - Energy and Water Ombudsman NSW - 1800 246 545
  • Northern Territory - Office of the Ombudsman NT - 08 8999 1818
  • Queensland - Energy and Water Ombudsman QLD - 1800 662 837
  • South Australia - Energy and Water Ombudsman SA - 1800 665 565
  • Tasmania - Energy Ombudsman TAS - 1800 001 170
  • Victoria - Energy and Water Ombudsman VIC - 1800 500 509
  • Western Australia - Energy and Water Ombudsman WA  - 1800 754 004

Retailers may face large fines if they do not meet the regulated timeframes to install or replace electricity meters - up to $100,000 for each incident, and $10,000 for each day of delay.

Roles and responsibilities

Australian Energy Market Commission – makes rules for energy markets, including metering rules

Australian Energy Regulator – polices the system and checks rules are being followed

Australian Energy Market Operator – works with industry to manage the power system; develops procedures and guidelines for metering, and registers metering coordinators and providers

Consumer action plan

The AEMC has been working for several years on a series of reforms to make it easier for customers to engage in the energy market, including our Competition in metering reforms. Read more about how we are helping energy shoppers get more engaged and better informed.