Energy customers would receive a smart meter by 2030, along with better information, protections and data in a suite of reforms from the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) that place consumers at the forefront of the transition to net zero.
The AEMC has today released final recommendations following its review of smart meters, finding that an accelerated rollout would help customers reduce their household bills in the short-term and provide savings for all energy users in the longer-term.
The independent review has determined that speeding up the rollout of smart meters to 100 per cent of households by 2030 would provide net benefits to the value of $507 million for national electricity market regions, including NSW, QLD, the ACT and SA.
Chair Anna Collyer said smart meters offer consumers more opportunities when it comes to using and paying for energy and customers need to be supported in their uptake of the technology.
“A number of Australians are already using smart meters to cut power bills, from those who have resources such as rooftop solar, to customers without solar who may be using smart meters to access cheaper tariffs such as the ‘solar soaker’,” Ms Collyer said.
“Smart meters present clear benefits for consumers and form a crucial link for the wider energy system, paving the way for significant advances necessary to reach net zero.
“With the right frameworks in place, an accelerated smart meter rollout will help to ensure all customers see the benefits of a more efficient, lower-cost and decarbonised energy system sooner.”
In the AEMC’s proposal, cost savings for customers would be made through a coordinated rollout led by energy networks developing a legacy meter retirement plan, with retailers overseeing upgrades to smart meters.
The AEMC’s final recommendations would see new obligations placed on retailers to provide customer friendly information prior to meter installations, adequate notice regarding any tariff changes, and a mandate on customer access to real-time data free of charge.
The recommendations also include the development of a communications strategy for the rollout to inform and assist consumers with their choices, and support for vulnerable customers with premises requiring remediation before a smart meter can be installed.
Ms Collyer said the current pathways for replacing smart meters have led to positive experiences for many, but not all customers.
“Going from an old accumulation meter to a smart meter can be like going from a landline to a smart phone, and people deserve transparency and timely information about how they can make the device best work for them,” Ms Collyer said.
“Today’s final recommendations aim to address key customer pain points by providing better notice ahead of tariff changes to prevent “bill shock”, as well as guidance for customers about how they can use tariffs to save on their power bill.
“Knowledge really is power and that’s why we’re also recommending a mandate on customer access to real-time data about their own energy usage, so that they can maximise their savings from the touch of a device in their own homes.”
The final recommendations take in feedback from extensive consultation with stakeholders and the AEMC will now work with energy advocacy bodies on next steps in the rule change process.
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