The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) today called for submissions on a draft rule that would provide customers with more control over when their electricity meter will be installed or upgraded.
Retailers would have to provide new smart meters on a date agreed with customers.
If no date is agreed, retailers would be required to install new meters within six working days after a property has been connected to the network.
If customers want to swap their old meter for a smart meter, retailers would have to agree on an installation date or make sure the work is done within 15 business days. Replacing a faulty meter would also have to be done within 15 business days.
Failure to meet these deadlines would result in fines of up to $100,000 for each incident, and $10,000 for each day of delay.
AEMC Chief Executive, Anne Pearson, said the proposed changes would give consumers more power and certainty over when their meters will be installed, and provide a strong incentive for retailers and network businesses to achieve the new mandatory timeframes.
“About 1,000 metres a day are being rolled out without any problems for most people,” Mrs Pearson said.
“More than 500,000 smart meters have been installed in NSW, South Australia, Queensland, ACT and Tasmania, since changes were made by the AEMC to enable consumers to request smart meters directly from their retailers.
“While this roll-out has been seamless for the vast majority of consumers, in some cases retailers have been too slow to have new meters installed, causing issues for homeowners particularly in cases where this prevents them from moving into their new homes.
“That’s not good enough, so we’re stepping in to give consumers more power and certainty with enforceable new timeframes in the least cost way.”
Mrs Pearson said customers in South Australia have been most affected by the changes, as they have been particularly quick to request smart meters. Communications between the network and retailers must also be improved in that jurisdiction.
“The take-up of smart meters has been faster than anticipated, driven by both consumers and energy companies,” Mrs Pearson said.
“Giving people access to smart meters, which they didn’t have in the past, means they can better control their energy use and costs, and will make those vexed estimated meter reads a thing of the past.”
The draft rules place new obligations on network businesses as well as retailers. Networks would have to notify retailers as soon have they have completed connection work. They would also be required to use AEMO’s already established B2B e-hub, an industry-wide online booking system, to coordinate with retailers on key stages of the installation process.
Under the AEMC’s draft rules, retailers and networks would be required to meet the new timeframes from 1 January 2019 to allow time for those impacted to prepare for the changes. We are also recommending the COAG Energy Council approves new civil penalties to protect customers if retailers or network businesses do not meet these new deadlines.
In the meantime, the Australian Energy Market Operator, ombudsmen and state governments will continue to work with retailers and distribution businesses to improve processes and clear the backlog so customers get their new meters quickly.
A workshop for industry, retailers and consumer representatives will be held in Adelaide on 12 October 2018 to discuss the proposed new rules. The workshop will be webcast live, with a recording made available later (webcast details will be provided soon in our e-newsletter and on our website).
Stakeholder submissions on the draft determination are due by 25 October 2018.
Register here to attend the workshop
This draft rule is the result of two rule change requests, from former Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg and the Australian Energy Council. It is part of the AEMC’s consumer protection action plan to help give consumers more control over their energy bills.
As a result of a separate Victorian government rollout, almost all Victorian consumers already have advanced meters that were installed by distribution businesses. The Victorian government has made significant derogations from the metering provisions in the national rules.
Media: Prudence Anderson, Communication Director, 0404 821 935 or (02) 8296 7817