Smart meters: Australia’s AusNet rebates unconnected customers

Government of Victoria orders AusNet to pay compensation for smart meters not working
The Government of Victoria has ordered AusNet to pay compensation to customers excluded from the benefits of smart meters due an “unstable” IT system

In Australia, energy company AusNet Services has put together a AUD 28.75 million (US$21 million) compensation package for customers whose smart meters are not transmitting usage data due to an “unstable” IT system.

AusNet, which owns and operates the state of Victoria’s electricity transmission network, has committed to give each of the 230,000 affected customers AUD125 (US$96) in recognition that their smart meters will have to be manually read until at least the end of the year, reports local media source Herald Sun.

The delay in creating a solid IT backbone is reported to be causing “mass delays” in activating AusNet’s smart meters to remotely transit electricity usage data.

AusNet Services has fitted more than 700,000 smart meters, of which, 470,000 are communicating remotely but the rest are not, states the newspaper report.

Smart meter IT problems

Although billing is unaffected, AusNet said the government of Victoria had asked it to compensate customers in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs and northeast and eastern Victoria as they are missing out on services such as remote reconnection when moving house.

Others customers are also unable to sign up for time-of-use tariffs due to meters not yet being online.

A spokesman for the energy company said: “Due to instability issues with our metering systems’ performance … AusNet Services reduced meter conversions for remote communication while working to ensure stability.

“The Victorian Government has required we pay eligible customers a one-off $125 rebate. These customers will continue to have their meters manually read and won’t have access to the benefits of a ­remote communicating meter, such as remote reconnection when moving house.”

Consumers were entitled to compensation if their smart meters were not remotely read by March 31.

AusNet identified smart meter IT problems, such as overnight electricity consumption data delivery, late last year.

In November 2014, reported that the electricity distributor expected to spend a further AUD175 million (US$134 million) over the next year to stabilise its advanced metering infrastructure (AMI).

State-wide meter rollout

AusNet was one of five distributors in Victoria charged with the task of installing smart meters to every household and small business by the end of 2013.

Having missed the deadline to deploy 714,000 smart meters, AusNet confirmed it needed a further six months to complete the work.

Other distributors United Energy, CitiPower and Powercor will also pay the compensation for faulty meters but only about 2500 customers across those companies have been effected.

In January this year we reported that Victoria’s smart meter rollout is more than 90% complete, with more than 2.5 million meters installed at homes and small businesses across the state, according to government statistics.

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