With few exceptions, where a new connection to the National Energy Market is set up, or where an existing meter needs replacing, a retailer (through its Metering Coordinator) must replace that meter with a smart meter (National Electricity Rules, 7.8.3).
A smart meter (also known as an ‘advanced’ meter or a ‘type 4’ meter) is a device that digitally measures energy use. Energy data is sent to the retailer automatically, without the need for the meter to be manually read by a meter reader. Other mechanisms included within a smart meter allow for:
- remote switching power on or off;
- measuring power quality at the premises;
- customer monitoring of energy use; and
- notifying the distributor when the power goes out.
The Rule Change
In December 2018, the AEMC made a final rule that requires retailers to complete meter installations for new connections or a simple meter exchanges by a date agreed with the customer. We reported on the background to the proposed rule here.
If no timing can be agreed, then the retailer will need to install the meter within six business days at a new connection, or within 15 business days if the customer has requested a simple meter exchange.
For a meter exchange that requires a connection alteration to be completed by a distribution network service provider (DNSP), the retailer is required to install the meter by a date agreed with the customer and the DNSP.
Under the final rule, metering coordinators must replace or repair a small customer’s malfunctioning meter as soon as practicable, but no later than 15 business days after they have been notified of the meter installation malfunction
The rules are heavily reliant on contact with the customer. Stakeholders raised concerns that some customers may be non-contactable. Unfortunately, this issue was not addressed in the final rule.
There are additional rules regarding the provision of information to customers in relation to metering installations. Rule 56C of the National Energy Retail Rules sets out the obligations of retailers with respect to installation timeframes for electricity meters. Retailers are required to publish various information about their obligations under the National Electricity Rules. That information must also be provided to a customer on request and in writing.