Over the last two years energy businesses have been getting ready for the AEMC’s new competition in metering rules which started on 1 December 2017.
More than 500,000 smart meters have now been installed across the national electricity market.
The energy technology revolution is well underway across the nation. The AEMC’s consumer surveys are making it very clear that people are well informed about options like rooftop solar, storage and energy efficient appliances. People are adopting new technologies to source their own energy as solar PV becomes more financially beneficial for households and small businesses. Consumers say they want new deals from their retailers tailored to the specific requirements – and smart meters are an important way to help make this happen.
The new competition in metering rules were developed in 2015 as part of the AEMC’s forward looking Power of choice reform program. They provide a framework for the competitive provision of smart meters for residential and small business consumers. Under the new rules, the customer’s chosen retailer is responsible for managing installation and maintenance of new meters.
Introducing competition in providing advanced meters helps put downward pressure on the price of these services. In fact, there is no longer an upfront charge when customers receive smart meters to access their data.
This contrasts with costs under the old rules. For a new connection or solar upgrade, networks’ regulated charges varied a lot between jurisdictions but an upfront capital charge of around $300-$500 for an accumulation meter was about average.
With the rapid pace and large uptake of smart meters under the new rules, there have been customer complaints in some regions about delays in installing meters. There are also instances where the customer service from retailers and metering businesses has been poor, with several complaints regarding metering businesses not turning up at the agreed time to install meters. Some electricians and builders have also found it difficult to deal with retailers as retailers bed down new processes.
Customers in South Australia have been most affected by the changes, as they have been quickest off the mark to request smart meters. In South Australia 10% of households have already received smart meters under the new rules.
The AEMC is working with regulators, ombudsmen and industry participants to resolve implementation issues as quickly as possible. For example in South Australia a series of implementation workshops have been held since the start of the year. Last month, the AEMC, Australian Energy Regulator (AER), Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and Essential Services Commission of South Australia (ESCOSA) held a joint roundtable in Adelaide to develop and implement solutions to metering issues being experienced by South Australian customers. This workshop was also attended by officials from the Commonwealth and South Australian Governments as well as representatives from major energy retailers, SA Power Networks and the National Electrical and Communications Association. Another workshop convened by Master Electricians with retailers, Master Builders SA, was held today and the market bodies are supporting implementing businesses through this period.
We are also working on a rule change proposal from the Federal Energy Minister, The Hon Josh Frydenberg, that would require retailers to provide customers with new electricity meters within a defined timeframe. We initiated this rule change and published a consultation paper in May 2018 for stakeholder consultation. A draft determination is due in September 2018.
In the meantime, the market bodies, regulators, ombudsmen and industry participants are working together to resolve implementation issues as quickly as possible.
Smart meters enable customers to choose from a broader range of technologies, products and services to meet their specific energy needs. These include the ability to access services such as demand management, battery storage and solar services which smart meters enable. Smart meters also support innovation in the delivery of distribution services and enable more accurate, remote meter reads. Electricity distributors will be able to detect outages more quickly and monitor the quality of electricity supply.
We are also reminding customers they should contact their energy retailer in the first instance about any metering issues. If customers are having difficulty resolving a problem directly with their retailers, they can contact the energy ombudsman scheme in their region.
Media: Communication Director, Prudence Anderson, 0404 821 935 or (02) 8296 7817