Smart meter customer protection and safety under review in Australia


Canberra, Australia — (METERING.COM) — January 5, 2011 – Australia’s Ministerial Council on Energy (MCE) has released its response to submissions on Draft Policy Paper One of the Smart Meter Customer Protection and Safety Review, covering customer protection issues relating to the National Energy Customer Framework (NECF).

In December 2007, the MCE committed to work with stakeholders and the appropriate jurisdictional authorities to review customer protection and safety arrangements and ensure they remain appropriate where smart meters are rolled out.

The introduction of smart meters is expected to improve the level and quality of information available to customers about their electricity consumption. Currently customers with an accumulation meter can compare the consumption information on their bill with their meter with reasonable certainty and it is recommended that this level of certainty is not diminished for customers with smart meters. It is also recommended that retailers provide customers with consumption data for each tariff segment (e.g. peak, off-peak, shoulder) on their bill, and that they show the scope of any estimations and substitutions on the bill.

In the event that historical data is requested by the customer, then retailers should be able to provide either the full set of the billing data on which the bill was based, or a summary of the data, according to the level of detail requested.

Other issues covered in the response where policy resolution has been achieved include overcharging and undercharging, de-energisation notification, prepayment metering, and embedded generation.

However, there remain a number of policy issues on which further work is being undertaken to develop settled policy positions. These positions, which will be outlined in a second draft policy paper, pertain to the distributional impacts of time-related pricing, the treatment of missing data in a dynamic peak pricing (DPP) event, direct load control, and supply capacity control.

Other issues to be included in the second draft policy paper, which is currently under development, include information flows and privacy, including marketing through the HAN, consumer education and information, and consumer safety issues identified as part of the rollout.