Energy Australia Smart Meters causing customer complaint

Smart meters are now being installed in any new build or any renovated home across Energy Australia's incumbent supply region.

The new smart meters allow a retailer to implement 'time of use' charging.  'Time of use' charging isn't something particularly new in New South Wales, the majority of customers are charged a Peak, Off Peak and Shoulder rate from suppliers.  But the measurement and tracking is pretty crude.  

The existing 'dumb' meter has a simple time switch to measure the customers usage across different times of the day. The only way to read the meter, or change the time structure, is for an engineer to go out and re-configure it.

The new smart meters allow for the exact time of use to be configured remotely and for the meter to be read remotely.  So whilst the 'time of use' periods may be fixed today, they could easily be changed in the future to more accurately reflect the costs incurred by retailers to supply customers with their electricity.

The issue NSW customers are facing, is the peak time period (highest prices) that Energy Australia are enforcing on these customers is across the time of day when a customers usage (especially a family) is likely to be highest - typically 2pm to 8pm.

Customers are less than happy about this as they feel they are being hit with significant prices hikes, and some are.  Energy Australia however suggest that 70% of customers using smart meters will end up paying less for their energy than those on a flat rate - probably demonstrating that bad news travels a lot faster than good.

Energy Australia have now allowed customers to choose between a 'time of use' charging structure and a 'flat rate' set of prices. This is a sensible choice for Energy Australia - there's a clear need to get customers onboard, then improve the level of education about the benefits of smart meters.

The benefits being:

  • Cheaper prices
  • More accurate billing
  • Improve energy efficiency

All easy to say, slightly harder to deliver to customers who are merely worried about affording their energy bills.