Smart meter review investigates how to boost customer benefits

Monday, 07 December, 2020

Smart meter review investigates how to boost customer benefits

In a bid to increase uptake and help customers gain more benefits from advanced metering technology, the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) has committed to review the rules governing electricity meters.

The Review of the Regulatory Framework for Metering Services will focus on driving retail innovation and consumer participation in a two-sided energy market — where all types of energy users actively buy and sell electricity or their demand for electricity — and will assess whether roles and responsibilities around metering under current rules need revising.

The AEMC introduced new rules relating to competition in metering in 2017, which included transferring responsibilities for metering away from distribution network service providers. The reforms were designed to increase competition, encourage new products, services and pricing to benefit consumers, and provide better information about energy use.

At this time, the AEMC committed to reviewing the change after three years to assess how the market had developed. During those three years, the energy landscape has changed significantly.

Intellihub CEO Adrian Clark said smart metering technology has come a long way since the introduction of metering competition across the National Energy Market in 2017.

“Smart meter technology has long since moved on from the simple task of remote connections and reading,” Clark said.

“The meter can give you insights in real time; optimise the home for solar, batteries and electric vehicles; and enable new services like demand response and virtual power plants.

“They give more control over household energy costs, and when deployed at scale they reduce costs to serve, putting downward pressure on electricity prices and helping to deliver a more competitive electricity retail market.

“The AEMC review is an opportunity to make changes and improvements so we can accelerate the deployment of smart meters and share the benefits with more customers.”

Smart meters will be key to integrating distributed energy resources such as solar PV, electric vehicles and battery technology. They will also be an important consideration in developing a two-sided market, which is one of several post-2025 market development initiatives being led by the Energy Security Board.

Focusing on the grid of the future is particularly relevant to smart meter technology as it relies on greater access to data.

The upcoming review will be broader than envisaged when metering reforms were drafted in 2015. The AEMC will assess the ability of small customers to appoint their own metering coordinator and whether some form of access regulation is required for metering services, and in addition will holistically examine the entire framework governing metering.

The Commission is seeking stakeholder input on the regulatory framework, asking a range of questions including:

  • whether expectations around smart meter rollout have been met
  • what level of benefits consumers are experiencing from smart meters
  • what the barriers might be to wider smart meter rollout and use
  • what services smart meters might be expected to deliver in future.

After conducting preliminary consultations on the metering reforms, the Commission is now seeking broader input. Submissions to the consultation paper are due on 11 February 2021.

The Commission will also establish a reference group, for which it invites interested stakeholders to register their interest by 11 February 2021.

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