Electricity meters are installed in almost every Australian home and business and have three uses:
- Metrology - measuring electricity consumption for market and billing purposes.
- Customer products and services - like the control of a customer’s load; customer information on energy use; disconnection & reconnection and potential new services such as remote control of appliances in smart applications.
- Network control & management services - supporting reliability, outage recovery, load management to defer network augmentation, and (with smart meters) enabling intelligent networks.
Types of Electricity Meters
- Currently in place in approximately 70%of Australia homes and businesses.
- Only record the total electricity consumption since the last meter reading (typically three months).
- Do not permit tariffs which reward customers for using less energy at peak times (ie. time varying tariffs).
- Data is read manually from the meter at a consumer’s premises.
- May be used by Networks in conjunction with simple load control devices , such as ripple control, to provide benefits to all users
- Relatively low level of use, except for large commercial and industrial customers.
- Can record both total electricity consumption and when it occurs (eg. half hourly intervals).
- Permit tariffs which reward customers for using less energy at peak times (ie. Time varying tariffs).
- Data may be retrieved manually at the premises or may be read remotely via communication technology (that is, without having to visit the consumer premises).
- May be used by Networks in conjunction with simple load control devices , such as ripple control, to provide benefits to all users.
- In use in Victoria with some also installed in other parts of Australia
- Have all the capabilities of Interval Meters and communication technology enabling data to be retrieved remotely.
- Enables additional functions such as remote energisation and de-energisation and appliance control
- Improve network performance, including reliability and quality of supply, and permit fault identification and network load management.
- Can link to household devices such as through a Home Area Network (HAN) and In Home Display (IHD) to enable instant access for the consumer to their electricity use profile.
The "Split" Benefit of Smart Meters
Electricity meters provide services needed by individual customers, retailers, distributors and other service providers. They are already an essential part of our electricity system, integrated with network operations. It is vital that metering technology provides a cost effective tool to support customers in their energy supply and demand choices but also assist safe, reliable and efficient network operation and services to consumers.
As technology and energy markets develop rapidly, smart meters and other devices will benefit individual customers. Customers should receive practical information and more rewarding tariff structures that match their needs; be able to control their energy use to get better deals and participate in new markets, such as exporting energy to the Grid through solar panels or supporting energy storage options, as these develop commercially.
Importantly, smart meters can also provide a simple way to achieve benefits to all customers by assisting network control and management, which supports lower costs as augmentation is delayed. These potential whole of system outcomes include improved safety, greater access to power quality and outage information to reduce customer time off-supply, and improved outcomes for reliability performance. It has been estimated that the benefits for all customers at the network level from the use of smart meters, can be up to double those achieved for retailers and individual customers.
Energy Networks Australia is concerned to ensure that the metering framework deliver cost effective outcomes in the interests of consumers. Energy Networks Australiasupports a metering framework that achieves desired benefits at the lowest societal cost by:
- Enabling a safe, competitive, open and fair market for demand side services;
- Benefiting customers through economic achievement of future network operational benefits;
- Facilitating broader adoption of smart meters while minimising cross-subsidies and any associated price impact on customers;
- Enabling a transition to cost reflective network tariffs as quickly as practicable;
- Maintaining current network services and efficiently leveraging existing investments; and
- Fostering innovation in energy management solutions for customers and network operations.
Delivery of efficient network access for all customers relies upon support of cost effective delivery of network services, which require the ability of networks to cost effectively purchase smart meter enabled services from other parties and to retain its own devices to provide competitive pressure to alternative suppliers.
Smart Metering in Victoria
In 2006, the Victorian Government mandated the rollout of smart meters to all households and small businesses across Victoria. Controversial and challenging at the time, the rollout of 2.8 million smart meters was completed in 2014. Metering charges have reduced dramatically and the technology has begun to offer Victorian energy customers a distinct ‘first mover advantage’, as the benefits of advanced metering, including safety, efficiency and supporting innovative services and technology now flow through.
Network businesses have already realised significant benefits from the smart meter implementation. United Energy notes that in one year (2014):
- More than 54,000 connections and disconnections were completed remotely reducing costs by more than $30 for each transaction;
- More than 2,300 unnecessary truck visits to customers’ premises were avoided saving customers from $51 to $115 per truck visit; and,
- Neutral integrity testing undertaken remotely avoided site visits and manual testing at around 65,000 premises per annum, saving about $26 million per annum.
AusNet Services has identified and remediated more than 1,500 Loss of Neutral situations reducing the number of reported electrical shocks by 75%. For Jemena, approximately 4105 truck visits have been avoided, with an estimated benefit to all customers in 2016 of $1,654,890.
At least $100 million in available benefits were identified by Deloitte in the CitiPower Powercor area alone, including faster fault detection and outage restoration, reduced truck visits and reduced peak demand. These benefits flow to customers in the form of cost savings over the long-term.
The safety benefits being realised in Victorian networks have been independently verified by the Electricity Safety Victoria (ESV) in the 2016 Safety Performance Report on Victorian Electricity Networks. The ESV found tangible evidence that a range of hazards with the potential to cause electrocution, shocks or fires, could now be identified remotely including: Mains degradation due to bad connections and insulation breakdown; Broken conductors and live HV wire down events; Candling fuses; Incorrect meter wiring; Meter bypass event; Over-voltage events; Overload events; and Non-compliant solar installations.
- Energy Insider: Developments in energy market competition in Victoria April 2017
- Energy Insider: Major metering changes requiring careful implementation May 2016
- Smart Choices in metering – a contestable metering framework that benefits all customers April 2014
- Smart Meters: Removing Regulatory Barriers And Maintaining Consumer Safety For A Market-Led Rollout In New South Wales: Response To AEMC Consultation February 2016
- ERC0182: Draft Rule Determination on Meter Replacement Processes January 2016
- Implementation advice on shared market protocol 12 February, 2015
- AEMC implementation plan for competition in metering 12 December, 2014