bulbAustralia’s National Electricity Market (NEM) is undergoing substantial reforms following recommendations by the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC).

The Power of Choice review recommended that consumers be given options in the way they use electricity with a view to meeting consumer needs over the next 15 to 20 years.

This is to be facilitated by providing:

  1. consumers with information, price incentives and technology; and
  2. enabling network operators, retailers and others to support choice through better incentives to drive a reduction in energy demand; thereby decreasing transaction costs and avoiding some future network investment.

Many of these options are tied in to the type of metering technology used, how it is managed and how competitively the market is structured.

According to the AEMC it may be possible to reduce total system expenditure by between $4.3 and $11.8 billion over the next ten years (3% – 9% of the estimated total system expenditure over the period). The majority of these potential savings are in reduced network costs.

While the benefits of using enabling technology – smart metering and smart grid – is clear, more frequent, near real-time meter reading which will drive efficient energy use along with more efficient grid operation and lower cost with better service, it was felt that the current market rules limit competition and may in fact inhibit investment into advanced metering.

In order to move away from this situation, AEMC has recommended the following:

  1. The provision of metering services needs to be more competitive in order to increase efficient investment and consumer choice.
  2. New minimum requirements for new and replacement meters for small customers must be introduced.
  3. New security obligations need to be defined.
  4. Consumers must be allowed better access to their consumption data.

Provision of metering services

In July 2015 AEMC extended the deadline for publication of the final determination on the Competition in Metering and Related Services rule change request. The final determination will be published on 26 November 2015.

In a notification on the extended deadline, AEMC stated “there are significant interlinkages between the various Power of Choice Projects … [and] there is a need for this rule change to be implemented as quickly as possible to facilitate competition in metering and greater choice for consumers.”

Specific regulations regarding the provision of metering services are suggested to change as follows: Who can provide and be responsible for metering services: Who is responsible…

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