The following questions and answers apply to all jurisdictions in the National Electricity Market except Victoria.
What is a smart meter?
A smart meter (also known as an advanced meter or 'type 4' meter) is a device that digitally measures your energy use. A smart meter measures when and how much electricity is used at your premises. It sends this information back to your energy retailer remotely, without your meter needing to be manually read by a meter reader.
Smart meters can also do other things remotely, like allow the electricity supply to be remotely switched on and off without the need for a field technician, measure the power quality at your premises and notify your electricity distributor when the power goes out.
What are the benefits of getting a smart meter?
A smart meter can help you take control of your electricity bill by providing information about when and how much electricity you use, and:
- give you access to a wider range of services, including battery storage
- give you detailed information about your energy use on a regular basis – this information can help you understand and adjust your usage or find the best deal for you
- help electricity retailers offer you better and more innovative products and services, like energy management apps and online access to information about you use electricity
- allow electricity distributors to detect outages more quickly and monitor the quality of your electricity supply – this will help to minimise the number and length of electricity supply outages.
How do I get a smart meter?
Your retailer may offer you a product that needs a smart meter installed. You will also get a smart meter if your current meter is faulty or at the end of its life and needs replacing.
You can contact your electricity retailer and any other retailers to compare what offers are available in your location. Our independent price comparator website Energy Made Easy can help you compare the available electricity offers in your local area.
Are smart meters safe?
Yes. Smart meters are manufactured and installed according to Australian Standards.
All smart meters must comply with the electromagnetic exposure limits developed by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA). The same limits apply to things like mobile and cordless phones, WiFi routers and baby monitors.
For more information, refer to ARPANSA's web page on smart meters and health.
Will I have to pay for a smart meter?
Smart meters will allow electricity retailers and distributors to lower their operating costs and provide better services to customers.
Different retailers may take different approaches to how they charge you for a new meter. They may charge you a lump sum which could appear in your next bill or they may choose to charge you a monthly fee. This fee should appear on your bill as well. Retailers may also decide to incorporate the cost of providing new meters to customers as part of the electricity usage charges.
If the retailer is leading the roll out of the meter they will need to disclose all upfront costs to you before they install the new meter. It is always a good idea to ask your retailer if and how they will charge for the meter, its installation and any if there are any ongoing costs associated with the meter.
Remember, you can always shop around for a different retailer who is offering a lower price. Energy Made Easy can help you compare the available electricity offers in your local area.
What if I do not consent to having a smart meter installed at my property?
Retailers are required to install smart meters for new connections (for example, a new house build) and if your meter is faulty or has reached the end of its life and needs replacing. If your meter needs replacing you can ask your retailer to disable the communications functions. There may be additional costs associated with the retailer having to do manual reads of your meter if you choose to have the telecommunications disabled.
If your current meter is working properly and a retailer wants to replace it with a smart meter, you can opt out of the smart meter installation. You can only opt out if you haven’t waived your right to opt out when you signed up to your current electricity contract.
Retailers are required to provide you at least 4 business days’ notice of any planned interruptions to your electricity supply to install the meter.
Will the smart meter be installed safely?
Yes. State and territory electrical safety regulators have reviewed their arrangements to ensure they are suitable for smart meter installations.
Will I be on a different tariff or energy offer once the smart meter is installed?
This depends on your existing energy offer. You will need to check the answer with your retailer. Go to Energy Made Easy to find the best available offers in your postcode.
Will my electricity supply be interrupted during the installation?
Your electricity supply will be interrupted for a short time during the installation. Your retailer must give you at least 4 business days’ notice of the supply interruption.
The notification must tell you the date on which the retailer expects to replace the meter as well as the time and length of the retailer planned interruption. Your retailer has to include a 24-hour telephone number for enquiries when they notify you of a planned interruption. The retailer must also use its best endeavours to restore your supply as soon as possible after the installation.
Is my smart meter data private?
Yes. Your energy data and personal information are protected under the National Electricity Law and the Privacy Act 1988.
What do I do if I have a problem with my meter?
From 1 December 2017 your retailer is responsible for the meter at your property. If you think there is a problem or fault with your meter you should contact your electricity retailer for assistance.
However, you should contact your distributor (the company that owns the poles and wires) if your electricity or gas stops working, there is a blackout or the supply is bad or if there is a fault or emergency, for example if an electricity pole is down.
What if I have a complaint about my retailer or need additional help?
The energy ombudsman in your state or territory can help you resolve complaints with your electricity retailer.
What can my energy ombudsman help me with?
If you are unable to resolve an issue with your retailer in the first instance, contact your energy ombudsman for assistance about the following issues:
- billing issues following the installation of a smart meter
- customer service issues during the installation process
- problems with the meter exchange.
What if my bill is higher than it used to be after the smart meter is installed?
Older analogue meters sometimes under-record customer household electricity use. The smart meters will provide greater accuracy and may initially give the impression of a higher bill.
What is Power of Choice?
Power of Choice is a package of reforms designed to give you more options and control of how you use and manage your electricity. These reforms were initiated following the 2012 Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) Power of Choice review.
Since then the AEMC has made several rule changes to support the recommendations of the Power of Choice review, including rules to introduce competition in metering services and to reduce barriers to embedded network customers accessing offers from electricity retailers through a new embedded network manager role. These rule changes came into effect on 1 December 2017.
Find out more information about the Power of Choice review on the AEMC website.
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has facilitated an industry-wide program to implement Power of Choice.
What are the benefits of the Power of Choice reforms?
The Power of Choice changes enable the competitive deployment of smart meters, which gives more choice to residential, small business and embedded network customers to engage in the retail energy market.
For customers this will mean access in the future to a wider range of services, including more frequent energy usage data, a wider range of pricing options and the ability to access products and services enabled by smart meters such as demand management.
Investing in solar panels was a big decision for Matt and Declan but it is really starting to pay off after a net smart meter was installed so they could use their generated power first. A new digital meter let them access and understand their usage more clearly.