Meters and metering services

The Competition in Metering rule change, made by the AEMC in 2015 and due to roll out this year, is key to unlocking the full value and benefit of consumer participation in energy markets.

Like a mobile phone or Pay TV box, smart meters are an important part of the physical infrastructure that enables consumers to choose a service they value. Smart meters can help consumers monitor, manage and adjust their electricity consumption. This gives consumers more opportunities to manage energy use in ways that suit their lifestyles and budgets.

The new rules increase competition and choice. Nothing will change for most consumers unless they want it to. Over time there will be more opportunities available for people to better manage electricity consumption to save money.

There are also potential large scale cost savings to be made across the electricity supply chain including more efficient network investment decisions, automated meter reading, remote connections and faster response to outages.

Why we need competition in metering

The 1950s-style meters installed in most Australian homes and businesses are preventing consumers from accessing 21st century services.

Industrial and medium sized businesses have access to interval and smart metering technology but most households and small businesses in the national electricity market, outside Victoria, still have meters that record consumption on an accumulation basis and are only read every three months.

In practice, there is very limited competition for metering and related services especially for residential and small business consumers. Services are generally provided by the monopoly electricity network operator.

These arrangements inhibit investment in metering technology and services. With better regulation we can support the uptake of new and innovative energy products and services.

How does this benefit consumers?

The services available through advanced metering can:

  • make it quicker for consumers to switch retailers
  • allow consumers to decide how often they want to be billed
  • provide consumers with better information about how to change their electricity use to save money.

Benefits include:

  • More efficient investment decisions because service providers in the market are responding to demand from consumers.
  • Improvements in the efficiency of the national electricity system as a whole. On the demand side, increased penetration of advanced meters may enable consumers to make more efficient consumption decisions. On the supply side, network operators may implement network prices that better reflect the costs of each consumer's use of the electricity network. The combination of these effects is likely to result in some consumers choosing to change how they use energy, leading to a flatter system load profile, reducing network costs for everyone.
  • Smart meters increase consumer participation and choice in electricity products and services, which in turn drives further efficiencies across the whole electricity supply chain.

What happens next?

The new arrangements will take effect on 1 December 2017, although some provisions will come into effect earlier to allow a range of parties to undertake necessary steps to prepare for the new arrangements. Some retailers have already started to offer smart meters to customers in preparation of the commencement of the new rules.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and Australain Energy Regulator (AER) staff are working closely with the AEMC on an ongoing basis to facilitate the successful implementation of these metering reforms.

Find out more about the Competition in Metering reforms.