New rule addresses excessive meter installation delays

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Electricity retailers will have up to six business days to install new meters and a maximum of 15 business days to replace existing meters, unless customers agree to a date range proposed by the retailer, under a new rule determination made by the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC).

The new rule follows an Australian Government rule change request to address excessive meter installation delays which can have a severe impact on customers. Delays can lead to no access to electricity and can result in higher bills than necessary.

Under the existing rules, retailers are only required to install meters within set timeframes if the existing meter is malfunctioning. The new rule will extend to customers wishing to replace their existing meter with a smart meter, for newly built houses or after a customer has solar panels installed.

Retailers will also have more flexibility to notify customers of planned interruptions to their power supply. Retailers will be able to engage with customers to arrange installation times, and will need to provide a minimum notice period of four business days for customers they can’t contact. This will help retailers ensure meters are installed on time.

The AEMC has also recommended that retailers should be subject to penalties, such as fines, if they fail to meet the maximum timeframes for meter installations.

The new rule will come into effect from 1 February 2019 across all National Electricity Market jurisdictions except Victoria.

Under the AEMC new rules:

  • Retailers will have to provide new smart meters by a date agreed with customers or within six working days after a property has been connected to the network.
  • If customers want to swap their old meter for a smart meter, retailers will have to agree on an installation time or it must be done within 15 business days.
  • Replacing a faulty meter must also be done within 15 business days.
  • Failure to meet these deadlines could result in fines of up to $100,000 for each incident, and $10,000 for each day of delay.

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