The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) has recommended a 100 per cent uptake of smart meters by 2030 in a draft report, detailing the acceleration of smart meter deployment.
The draft report for the Review of the Regulatory Framework for Metering Services outlines 20 key recommendations for accelerating the rollout of smart meters and shows a 100 per cent uptake would deliver net benefits to the tune of $507 million dollars for all National Energy Market (NEM) regions, including New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Queensland and South Australia.
The AEMC is working with stakeholders to accelerate a smart meter rollout in the National Electricity Market (NEM), to support the energy transition and build a smarter grid for the future.
The draft recommendations and options in the Review of the Regulatory Framework for Metering Services report reflect the many stakeholder ideas and suggestions put forward to the Commission in submissions and at the Review’s forums and reference groups.
Key recommendations include potential changes to the energy rules to support a more coordinated program of meter replacements in addition to ensuring appropriate safeguards for privacy.
AEMC Chair, Anna Collyer, said smart meters offer customers more ways to engage with the energy market now and in the future, as we continue up the tech curve.
“Smart meters turn power into knowledge and knowledge is power. Consumers can make informed choices which in turn open the way to greater retail options that suit their family or business usage patterns,” Ms Collyer said.
“The electricity market needs a critical mass of smart meters across households and businesses before we can introduce other significant advances necessary to reach net zero.”
Other potential benefits consumers can unlock with smart meters include:
- Remote meter readings means no more manual meter readings or estimated bills, providing accurate real-time information about electricity usage
- Customers can see their usage more frequently and accurately, meaning they have more control over their daily energy use and can potentially change their usage patterns by identifying cheaper times to use energy and as a result, cut the costs of their bill
- Access to different flexible pricing options, meaning customers can choose different rates for electricity that suit them – those without solar or batteries can especially benefit from new tariffs that reward usage during times of excess solar generation, helping to cut costs of their bill and reduce solar wastage
- Faster detection of faults and outages to alert distribution businesses quickly identify if the power is out, speeding up power reconnection for consumers.
Ms Collyer said that as well as providing benefits to consumers, smart meters are vitally important for the evolution of the electricity network.
“You can’t run a smart system on the old, ‘dumb’ technology like traditional accumulation meters,” Ms Collyer said.
“Smart meters are foundational to a more connected, modern and efficient energy system that allows all consumers to get data about their household energy use.
“They also allow providers, in a secure way, to get the information they need to provide better service to consumers.
“Smart meters really are the gateway to a more dynamic and flexible market where energy is traded both ways.
“The sharing of power quality data with distributors would also help manage supply and reduce future spending on expensive poles and wires.”
Energy Networks Australia has welcomed the recommendations, which it said will allow electricity retailers, energy networks and customers to securely access energy use data quickly and accurately to provide better energy services.
Energy Networks Australia CEO, Andrew Dillon, said the current smart meter rules had not delivered for customers and a new approach was needed.
“Smart meters are a key enabler of a smart grid. We can’t run a 21st century grid with 19th century meter technology,” Mr Dillon said.
“Customers with smart meters can take advantage of flexible pricing to tailor their use to when power is cheaper and save on their power bills.
“They also help networks identify, locate and fix faults and outages faster and make connection processes far simpler, which delivers better customer service.”
Mr Dillon said the entire economy was adopting better technologies to aid in the transition to net zero and energy networks were an essential platform to deliver a decarbonised future.
The draft report, Review of the Regulatory Framework for Metering Services, is available in full here.
Stakeholder and industry feedback will be accepted until 2 February 2023 and the final report is expected to be released in mid-2023.