Do I need a new meter to participate in the scheme?

If you are considering installing solar panels and your property still has an old-style accumulation meter, then you will need a new meter installed.

This is because the accumulation meter cannot measure the power you are sending from solar panels back to the grid.

Depending on where you live, you may get an interval meter or a smart meter when your solar panels are installed. Interval meters will eventually be replaced with a new smart meter when the rollout reaches your area.

If you already have either a smart meter, or interval meter, your meter may only require reconfiguration for solar.

Once I install an interval meter, will I keep my special off-peak meter for hot water, space heating and air-conditioning use?

In most cases, replacing your meter will mean that you can no longer have a special off-peak rate applied to the electricity consumed by a previously dedicated appliance such as hot water, space heating or air-conditioning.

This is because Victoria's feed-in tariff schemes are net metered schemes, where a household's total electricity consumption is offset against all solar PV generation.

This is calculated every half hour, with the tariff paid for every excess kilowatt of energy fed back into the grid.

In order to accurately measure your net electricity generation in half hour intervals, your electricity company will most likely move you to peak and off-peak pricing for your electricity.

In this case, you should be offered a new rate from your retailer which usually includes an off-peak rate at night and all weekend. You will be able to purchase a time switch to set your appliances to run when power is cheapest.

These peak and off-peak rates may not exactly match the old tariff, but they have the advantage of being applied to all the power you use during those times – not just to the single dedicated appliance.

When deciding whether to proceed with an installation, be sure to compare:

  • the cost of installation – including the cost of any potential loss of dedicated off-peak rates under previous metering arrangements with the
  • savings or credits you will make over the period by joining a feed-in tariff scheme.

I have a meter that was not installed by my electricity distributor - can I get a solar feed-in tariff with this meter?

As long as your application meets all eligibility criteria, there is no reason why you should not be able to receive a solar feed-in tariff offer.

What is the difference between an interval and a smart meter?

'Interval meters' are not necessarily 'Smart Meters' - there are different meter types.

However both Interval and Smart Meters measure the imports from and exports to the state's electricity grid on a half hourly basis and therefore allow for eligible customers to receive feed-in tariff credits.

Smart Meters are different because they can be monitored at a remote location which removes the need for 'estimated' meter reads. There is a statewide program in place to install Smart Meters in all Victorian households and small businesses by the end of 2013.

I'm not sure if I am scheduled to receive a Smart Meter, but I want to install solar panels. Will I need two meters installed?

If you are considering installing solar panels, it is recommended that you contact your electricity distribution company to find out if you are scheduled for a Smart Meter in the near future. If so, you can choose to wait to avoid any unnecessary meter exchanges.

You should remember that to be considered for the Transitional Feed-in Tariff scheme you must have met all the necessary eligibility requirements including having the correct bi-directional metering in place prior to the scheme's closure.

Your decision will depend on your individual situation and how you use electricity. Be sure to compare:

  • the cost of installation – including the cost of any potential loss of dedicated off-peak rates under previous metering arrangements
  • savings or credits you will make over the period by joining a feed-in tariff scheme.

Victoria's electricity distribution businesses are managing the rollout of smart meters to all Victorian households and small businesses by the end of 2013. Read more about Smart Meters