Rule Change: Completed
On 25 October 2018 the AEMC made a more preferable final rule to make it easier for small customers to fix inaccurate estimated bills by providing their own reading of an electricity or gas meter to their retailer.
Under the final rule, if a small customer receives an estimated bill that is based on an inaccurate estimate, the customer can ask the retailer to adjust the bill by providing their own reading of the meter. This ability to request an adjustment is available to small customers with electricity accumulation meters or gas meters.
The key features of the final rule:
- retailers must promptly provide a small customer with an adjusted bill based on a customer’s reading of their meter where:
- a small customer has an electricity accumulation meter or gas meter and requests an adjustment to an estimated bill by providing the retailer with a reading of their meter; and
- the retailer receives the customer’s reading of their meter before the due date for payment of the bill; and
- the customer’s reading is in accordance with the retailer’s guidance and requirements.
- retailers are required to inform customers in writing that they may request an adjusted bill (based on an estimated read) by providing the retailer with a reading of their meter before the due date for payment of the bill
- retailers must promptly notify the customer where a customer self-read has not been accepted and explain to the customer the specific reason(s) for not accepting it.
The final rule also included other measures to strengthen existing consumer protections applicable to bills, including:
- enhancing the customer dispute provisions in the National Electricity Retail Rules
- amending the existing rules governing estimated bills to make them clearer
- recommending new civil penalties if retailers fail to comply with the new rules.
The final rule commenced on 1 February 2019.
In 2018 the Commission received three rule change requests from the Australian government and two private individuals – Ms Kirsty Johnson and Dr Daryl Dodt – aimed at addressing the negative impacts on consumers as a result of inaccurate estimated meter reads.
The rule proponents raised concerns with estimated reads that are inaccurate, for example where there have been ongoing issues accessing the meter to carry out an actual meter read. Inaccurate billing can cause financial distress for vulnerable households.
On 17 May 2018, the AEMC published a consultation paper for the estimated meter reads rule change. 24 submissions were received on the consultation paper.
On 9 August 2018, the Commission published a draft rule determination and a draft rule. The Commission received 21 submissions on the draft rule determination.