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Electricity metering

Accumulation metering is the standard electricity metering system in Queensland. This system records consumption as a running total, like a car odometer.

Under the Electricity Act 1994 and the Electricity Regulation 2006, all new and replacement electricity meters installed in homes after 1 December 2017 will be digital meters.

About digital meters

Digital meters (also known as advanced meters, smart meters, or type 4 meters) are electricity meters which can record electricity consumption in 30 minute intervals. They use energy industry wireless communications for remote reading of electricity consumption and other services.

Digital meters record and store electricity use data only. The data is transmitted to the retailer’s systems via a secure encrypted link to prevent unauthorised access, and maintain data security. The digital meters do not store personal customer data and are not connected to the internet.

Digital meters are used extensively throughout the world and have been used in Australia for about 20 years by some business electricity customers.

Advantages of digital meters

Digital meters can help you:

  • better understand your electricity consumption patterns via interval data
  • take advantage of a wider range of new electricity products and services
  • better manage your usage.

Interval data is your electricity consumption recorded in 30 minute time intervals. Recording electricity consumption in shorter periods allows you to see how much electricity you consume at different times of the day.

This can assist you in making more informed decisions about products and services, including:

  • the optimal tariff you should be on
  • investments in energy efficient appliances, solar power, battery energy storage.

Digital meters enable:

  • accurate and up-to-date information on usage patterns through electricity retailer online platforms and mobile apps
  • smaller, more frequent bills based on actual consumption
  • faster switching between electricity retailers
  • faster services (e.g. when you make billing enquiries or transfer your accounts when moving premise)
  • faster network fault detection and restoration of supply.

Transition to digital meters

A transition is underway to make digital meters the standard meter used for all electricity customers.

Changes to electricity metering came into effect throughout the National Electricity Market on 1 December 2017. This includes Queensland (but excludes the off-grid areas in regional Queensland (i.e. the Mt. Isa–Cloncurry network, Weipa and Ergon Energy’s remote communities).

Electricity retailers are now responsible for electricity metering, including arranging the safe installation of the meter, reading of electricity consumption, and its operation and maintenance.

Existing accumulation meters can remain in use at your premises until:

  • you accept an offer from an electricity retailer to install a digital meter
  • you choose an electricity product which requires a digital meter
  • the meter needs replacement (e.g. due to fault or age).

Your electricity retailer will be able to provide you with more information.

Your opt-out options for digital meters

Digital meters will provide a range of benefits to electricity customers. However, if you do not wish to receive a new digital meter, there are a number of opt-out options available.

You may refuse an offer from an electricity retailer to replace a working accumulation meter with a digital meter. To refuse an offer, you should follow the instructions detailed in the offer from your electricity retailer. Make sure you send your refusal to your electricity retailer before the last opt-out date specified in the notice. Check your electricity contract to ensure you have not already waived your right to opt-out.

There are certain situations where a new meter is required and you cannot refuse the installation of a digital meter. These may include new connections or replacements due to:

  • age
  • fault
  • your choice of a tariff that requires more detailed information than your existing meter can provide.

Under the Electricity Act 1994 and the Electricity Regulation 2006, all new and replacement electricity meters installed in homes will be digital meters.

However, you may elect to have the remote communications disabled. Meters without remote communications are called type 4A. This means the digital meter will operate in much same way as the meter it replaced and electricity consumption data must be collected manually by a meter reader. You may be charged for manual reading of your meter – check with your electricity retailer if this will apply to you.

Charges for digital metering services

South East Queensland

In South East Queensland, charges for digital meters are not regulated. If your electricity retailer proposes to replace a working meter with a digital meter, they are legally required to inform you of any upfront charges for the installation and what those charges will be.

Regional Queensland

Customers on market contracts

For regional customers on market contracts, charges for digital meters are not regulated. If your electricity retailer proposes to replace a working meter with a digital meter, they are legally required to inform you of any upfront charges for the installation and what those charges will be.

Customers on regulated (notified) prices

In regional Queensland, meter service charges are additional to the regulated retail electricity tariffs. All regional households on standard retail contracts will pay the same regulated metering charges, regardless of the type of meter.

To cover the cost of the digital meter rollout, in 2018-19:

  • households with a primary tariff will pay an extra $5.77 (GST incl.), bringing the total cost of metering services to $43.80
  • households with a controlled load tariff will pay an extra $5.85, bringing the total cost of metering services to $55.30.

Households that receive a digital meter and choose to have the telecommunications function disabled will pay $64.33 per year in addition to the charges for their metering service. This is to cover the cost of ongoing manual meter reading.

Contact your electricity retailer for more information about your metering service charges, or before the installation of a new meter.

New billing arrangements with digital meters

With a digital meter, you may select more frequent billing options (e.g. monthly or fortnightly) which may assist you with budgeting. Unlike existing monthly billing products, which are based on estimates, these bills will be based on your actual consumption data transmitted daily from the digital meter.

Electricity retailers may also offer electricity customers with digital meters the ability to select their preferred billing date as electricity retailers are not bound by manual meter reading cycles. Contact your retailer for more information.

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