The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) today released draft changes to the National Electricity Rules and National Energy Retail Rules to remove the networks’ effective metering monopoly.

AEMC Chairman John Pierce called for public feedback on proposals to allow new competitors to offer metering services, and give people a choice to either retain their existing working meters or to take up new services that advanced meters enable.

“This is the missing link between ongoing electricity reforms and consumer choice,” Mr Pierce said.

“Under the draft changes, consumers can retain their current working meter, and where new meters are installed to replace those no longer working, consumers retain the right to choose which, if any, services they want to access.

“Advances in technology have introduced new ways to better manage our electricity to reduce demand and costs, but the 1950s-style meters installed in most Australian homes and businesses are preventing consumers from accessing 21st century services.”

The information and services available through advanced metering can make it quicker for consumers to switch retailers, allow them to decide how often they want to be billed, and provide them with better information about how they can change their electricity use to save money if they want to.

Consumers would also benefit from more accurate meter reads.

The proposals increase competition between retailers, networks and others to deliver new services via advanced metering to consumers who want to actively manage their electricity use. While retailers can install advanced meters under the current rules, a number of regulatory barriers have prevented them from doing so to date.

Mr Pierce said the proposed new arrangements are designed to be simple and practical for small consumers.

“Residential and small business consumers would continue to deal solely with their retailer, will continue to be covered by existing consumer protections, and enjoy access to new services if they want them,” he said.

Mr Pierce said all consumers, regardless of whether they take up new services, could benefit from the changes which support more efficient network investment decisions; lower cost and more accurate automated meter reading; faster remote connections; and faster response to outages.

The proposals would mean:

  • Increased competition to encourage cost efficiency and innovation. Any party could set up a business to provide metering services if they meet registration requirements.
  • Additional consumer protections:

- allowing consumers to opt out of having an advanced meter if their existing meter works, and

- putting in place rules that make sure only authorised parties have access to consumers’ electricity data and the services provided through their meter.

  • Minimum services that all new or replacement meters for small customers must be capable of providing to promote consistency across the National Electricity Market.

Mr Pierce said transitional arrangements are proposed for Victoria, where 98 per cent of households and small businesses already have advanced meters installed.

Under the draft rules, Victorian customers who already have an advanced meter installed are not expected to see any change in the short to medium term.

“These arrangements are designed to help consumers reap the benefits of the advanced meters introduced by the Victorian Government; and increase competition to reduce costs and increase innovation for customers who will eventually need new meters in the years ahead,” Mr Pierce said.

The draft rule changes are part of the COAG Energy Council’s Power of Choice reforms to support consumer-driven transformation of the energy market so consumers have more control over how they use electricity and the costs associated with their usage decisions.

The AEMC is seeking submissions on the draft rules until 21 May 2015.

If adopted, the rules are proposed to commence from 1 July 2017.

For information contact:

AEMC Chairman, John Pierce (02) 8296 7800

Media: Communication Manager, Prudence Anderson 0404 821 935 or (02) 8296 7817