Smart Meters and the Power of Choice

Fronius Smart Meter photo

What is Power of Choice (PoC)?

The Power of Choice (PoC) is about giving consumers more information and control over the way in which they use and manage their electricity through they use of smart meters. With a smart meter consumers get more insights about their usage and there is no more need for someone to come to their premises to read the meter.

The Power of Choice (PoC) program started on 1 December 2017 and is a series of government-led industry wide reforms which provides consumers with more opportunities to make informed choices about the way they use electricity. This national electricity metering reform will be progressively rolled-out to consumers in NSW, ACT, South Australia and Queensland.

Under the Power of Choice (PoC) reforms, old-style electricity meters will be replaced with new smart meters that are adapted for the demands and connectivity of the modern world. Energy retailers are now able to install and service smart meters. Whereas in the past this was the responsibility of distributors, the companies that own the poles and wires in your area.

The Power of Choice (PoC) legislation ensures the development of innovative energy products and services that will deliver greater choice, better service and lower prices for the electric utility customer of the future and will ultimately lead to the low carbon transition of Australia.

Australian Energy Providers by Market Share

Here is a list of electricity retailers and their residential market share in Australia:

  1. Origin: 28.1%
  2. AGL: 21.2%
  3. EnergyAustralia: 16.4%
  4. Ergon Energy: 9.6%
  5. Alinta Energy: 5.4%
  6. Red Energy: 4.4%
  7. Aurora Energy: 3.8%
  8. ActewAGL: 2.6%
  9. Simply Energy: 2.0%
  10. Amaysim Energy: 1.5%
  11. Dodo: 0.7%
  12. Powerdirect: 0.7%
  13. Lumo Energy: 0.6%
  14. Powershop: 0.6%
  15. Momentum Energy: 0.4%
  16. Energy Locals: 0.3%
  17. Locality Planning Energy: 0.3%
  18. 1st Energy: 0.2%
  19. CovaU: 0.1%
  20. Diamond Energy: 0.1%
  21. Enova: 0.1%
  22. QEnergy: 0.1%
  23. Sumo: 0.1%

The above figures have been sourced from the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) Retail Energy Market Performance Update for Quarter 1, 2019-20.

Power of Choice (PoC) Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the industry moving to digital meters?

The Power of Choice (PoC) reforms are a new set of rules being brought in by the National Energy Regulator. These rules make the installation of Type 4 digital (interval) meters mandatory when a new or replacement meter is needed. This change is coming into effect on 1 December 2017.

What is a Type 4 meter / digital meter?

Retailers are using the term ‘Type 4 digital (interval) meter’ to describe a meter that records power use in 30 minute intervals, has a digital display and has a remote communications device which allows for remote meter reads in a 3G/4G network area. These are also known as Type 4 digital meters with communications.

What does the move to digital meters mean for customers?

The introduction of this new digital metering technology is intended to give customers more control in managing their electricity:

  • Usage data is captured every 30 minutes, allowing customers more visibility over their electricity consumption;
  • Monthly billing allows for better budget management; and
  • Customers are likely to be able to view their usage online on a daily, monthly or yearly basis and, in time, project their final bills and set alerts to better manage their power use.

Who will customers have to contact about meter installations, replacements and upgrades?

From 1 December, customers will deal solely with their Retailer for all requests in relation to the installation, update or maintenance of metering services.

Customers may see more electricity industry providers (e.g. Meter Providers) onsite to conduct work at their premises when they submit a request to their Retailer to install, upgrade or maintain their electricity supply (e.g. Distribution Network Service Provider field crew (Energex), Meter Providers and Electrical Contractors).

Can customers opt out of a new Type 4 digital meter?

A customer can refuse to have a Type 4 digital meter, in which case, the new digital meter will still be installed, but the communications capability is not installed. This meter is known as a Type 4A; these meters are not recommended as many of the digital meter customer benefits are not included.

How much will the new meters cost and will customers be charged?

Yes, there will be a charge for a new meter. Retailers are currently finalising pricing for digital meters – for more information please refer your customer to their Retailer.

Will it take longer for customers to have their electricity connected?

Retailers will co-ordinate requests for all new connections, replacement meters and service upgrades to reduce the likelihood of electricity supply work taking longer.

Are digital meters a health concern?

No, the RF EMR emissions from digital meters are regulated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). ACMA’s regulatory arrangements require wireless devices, including digital meters to comply with the exposure limits in the ARPANSA RF standard. For more information access the ACMA website.

Change to Metering Comparison

The introduction of PoC reforms will result in a number of key market changes and will lead to more benefits for customers. The table below
highlights some of the changes customers can expect:

Existing Type 6 Meters Type 4 Digital Meters (with communications)
Current Type 6 basic meters are read manually on a
quarterly basis.
Type 4 digital (interval) meters with communications can be read remotely and
capture data every 30 minutes.
Electricity bills are currently synced to 3 monthly meter
reads.
Monthly billing options can provide more manageable bills.
All Type 6 basic meters currently require manual reads
at the premises.
Type 4 digital (interval) meters can be read remotely with meter data uploaded by
3G / 4G every 24 hours.
Tariff changes currently require a site visit. Fast tariff changes with remote capacity to switch tariffs are possible with the new Type 4 digital (interval) meters.
Distribution network teams must attend site to deenergise or re-energise a premises. Disconnections can now be undertaken remotely (no work onsite for deenergisations), making disconnections faster and easier.
Remote reconnections are currently not allowed due to current legislation;
however these may be possible if this legislation changes.
Retailers will be able to remotely carry out vacant property reads at a customer’s
request.

What does churn a meter mean?

Meter churn refers to when a Type 6 Basic meter is replaced by a new Type 4 Digital Meter.

What is the difference in responsibility of the Distribution Network Service Provider and the Metering Provider?

It is anticipated the Distributor Network Service Provider will attend site first to complete the supply service component and connect to the Meter Isolation Link. The Metering Provider will follow within 10 business days to install the metering. Where the Metering Provider has engaged Distribution Network Service Provider to perform the metering component, the later will complete metering works at the same time as the supply works.

When are customers expected to change from Type 6 to Type 4 meters?

Where the customer’s existing Type 6 meter is at the end of its life, fails, or can’t perform required functions it will be replaced with a Digital Meter (Type 4). Alternatively, Retailers may run meter replacement campaigns requesting customers to change their meter.

Will all Type 4 meters be read remotely?

Yes, unless a Type 4A meter has been installed. Type 4A meters will be installed where a customer has opted out of Type 4 or the location does not have wireless communications available.

Will all Metering Providers be installing the same brand of Type 4 metering?

The type of meter will be the same (Type 1-4) however; the brand of the meter is likely to differ.

Will the Metering Provider be responsible for the installation of a Controlled Load device?

From 1 December 2017, the Controlled Load device is required to be a separate network device and will continue to be installed by your Distributor Network Service Provider.

Who should be contacted if the Metering Provider has not attended site after the Distribution Network Service Provider has completed their work?

It is anticipated the Distributor Network Service Provider will attend site first to complete the supply service component and connect to the Meter Isolation Link. The Metering Provider will follow within 10 business days to install the metering. Where the Metering Provider has engaged Energex to perform the metering component, the Distributor Network Service Provider will complete metering works at the same time as the supply works.

When are customers expected to change from Type 6 to Type 4 meters?

Where the customer’s existing Type 6 meter is at the end of its life, fails, or can’t perform required functions it will be replaced with a Digital Meter (Type 4). Alternatively, Retailers may run meter replacement campaigns requesting customers to change their meter.

 

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