A joint market bodies workshop by the AEMC, AER and AEMO to make it easier and faster for consumers to upgrade to smart meters was held in Adelaide last week.
Around 45 industry and government representatives attended the workshop, including retailers, network businesses, metering businesses, Master Electricians Australia, the National Electrical and Communications Association, ombudsmen and state government officials.
The workshop focussed on improving the meter installation process in situations where it is difficult to isolate the meter, such as in some older apartment blocks. There was broad consensus that a lack of coordination and information sharing is making it difficult for those doing the work to identify and fix problems early in the process.
Participants at the workshop agreed on a set of actions, including a potential rule change request to the AEMC to streamline the process for undertaking planned outages in situations where many customers will be affected.
AEMO will also consider opportunities for more information sharing about individual meters through its NMI standing data review. This review is currently looking at standardising and simplifying the metering data that AEMO holds and makes available to industry.
The workshop followed the AEMC’s rule made last week that sets new deadlines for retailers to install electricity meters. The new rule, which starts in February, will address many of the delays that some homeowners and small businesses have been experiencing when they seek to upgrade or install a new meter.
Media: Bronwyn Rosser, Communication Specialist, 0423 280 341, (02) 8296 7847
New deadlines for installing electricity meters
Almost 600,000 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 smooth 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.
In December 2018 the AEMC made a rule that gives customers more control over when their electricity meter will be installed or upgraded. Retailers will have to provide new smart meters by a date agreed with customers. If no timing is agreed, retailers must 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 will have to agree on an installation time with the customer. If they cannot reach agreement, the retailer must make sure the work is done within 15 business days. Replacing a faulty meter must also be done within 15 business days.
Failure to meet these deadlines could result in fines of up to $100,000 for each incident, and $10,000 for each day of delay.
It is part of the AEMC’s consumer 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.
Benefits of smart meters
Smart meters help get the most out of new technologies like rooftop solar, storage and energy efficient appliances. For example, smart 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. Smart 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.