The use of smart meters is now providing benefits that were not available with the accumulation meters.

Transition to metering competition in Victoria – Options Paper

The Victorian Government is seeking feedback on proposed changes to the way electricity metering is installed and managed in Victoria. Until now, electricity distribution businesses (who manage the "poles and wires") have been solely responsible for installing, maintaining and reading electricity meters.  Under new national metering competition rules, retailers will have the opportunity to provide these services.

Victoria has already installed 2.8 million smart meters which have a greater level of functionality compared to the proposed national metering arrangements. As a result, the State Government is seeking feedback on how the new national rules should be applied in Victoria.

It will be important to adopt the rules in a way that preserves the benefits of the existing smart meter rollout but that also provides consumers with the opportunity to take up new and innovative products and services such as demand management products, in-home displays and web portals.

The Department presents a number of options and focuses on Option 2 – adopt full metering competition for new and replacement meters, but to retain the extra functionality specified for Victorian meters which is not required by the national metering competition rules.  For example, the Victorian meter functionality allows the notification of supply failure and restoration and allows households and small business a device that enables in-home displays of electricity usage.

Under Option 2 existing customers will not need to have their meters changed over unless it needs to be replaced or if they choose a particular product or service from their retailer that comes with a new meter.

For new customers or those moving into new houses or dwellings that require a new connection to the electricity grid, the installation of the new meter would be the responsibility of the retailer.

Transition to metering competition in Victoria (PDF, 2.7 MB)
Transition to metering competition in Victoria (DOCX, 3.3 MB)

Submissions

Submissions closed at 5.00pm on 11 November 2016.

18 submissions were received:

The Department also provided further opportunities for stakeholder consultation through a stakeholder forum held on Wednesday 19 October 2016.

Smart meter benefits

Smart meters provide data that enable customers to make choices about how much energy they use by allowing them to access accurate real-time information about their electricity consumption.

Unlike the old meters they replace, smart meters are up to date two-way, digital communication systems that record electricity usage every 30 minutes and automatically send this data to a customer's electricity distributor, virtually bringing an end to estimated bills and manual meter readings.

Taking up the option of new, flexible electricity pricing, connecting or disconnecting electricity, switching to a new electricity retailer or feeding electricity back in to the grid from roof-top solar panels, are cheaper and easier with a smart meter. Customers no longer need to wait for their next scheduled meter reading when switching electricity companies, making services like this quicker and cheaper. For example, when a customer moves house, the charge for meter reading reduces from around $25 to approximately $5 with smart meters.

Additionally, Victorian electricity customers with a remotely-read smart meter now have the option of choosing between flat rates and new flexible electricity pricing. Flexible pricing means different rates for electricity at different times of the day. For more details on flexible pricing, please visit Victorian Energy Saver

Smart meters - how do they work?

Smart meters measure and record how much electricity a household or business is using at 30 minute intervals. There are different smart meter models, but the basic functions are the same.

Smart meters communicate meter readings directly to electricity distributors, eliminating the need for someone to come out and read meters – whether that is required for each bill, to change electricity retailers or to reconnect power when customers move house. Not only does this reduce fees, but electricity bills will also be more accurate – virtually eliminating estimated bills.

Customer access to accurate information

Using a web portal or an in-home display connected to their smart meter, householders and businesses are able to access accurate and detailed information about their electricity use. This information is helping consumers identify ways to save electricity, thereby reducing their energy costs. It also helps consumers to compare electricity pricing offers from competing providers to make sure they are getting the best deal. More information on this price comparison can be accessed on Victorian Energy Saver

Locating blackouts and restoring power

Smart meters can notify an electricity distributor in real-time if a premises' power is out.

These outage alerts can speed up power reconnection because the source of the problem can be pinpointed instantly, allowing repair crews to be prioritised appropriately and start repairs sooner.

Smart meters can then verify whether power has been restored to all meters.

Communicating with customers

Electricity companies can use smart meter technology to help keep the public informed quickly and more accurately. For example, they can better advise the public about the precise locations of power outages resulting from storms and bushfires.

Responsibility for smart meters

Smart meters were installed by Victoria's five electricity distributors – CitiPower, Jemena, Powercor, SP AusNet and United Energy – which own and manage the poles and wires that deliver power to homes and businesses across Melbourne and throughout the state.