Smart Meters Rollout – Are Energy Companies Acting Smart?

  • Smart Meters Rollout – Are Energy Companies Acting Smart?

    An analysis done by Gavin Duffy, Martin Gill and Sangeetha Chandrashekeran on a major rollout of so-called “smart meters” led by energy companies, reveals consumers are failing to reap the benefits, according to an article appearing on ABC News online edition dated Feb 22, 2018. 

    While Victoria already has them, in NSW, QLD, SA and Tas. all new and replacement meters are going to be electric smart meters. This means that instead of simply recording electricity use for later checking, they can give energy companies detailed consumption data, measured at 30-minute intervals or less — and also allow the supply to be turned on or off remotely. Energy companies can also offer to upgrade selected customers’ existing meters to smart meters, and customers are free to accept or decline. 

    This is an important testing ground for the soon-to-be legislated Consumer Data Right, which aims to give consumers better access to their own data, allowing them open access to their banking, energy, phone and internet transactions, which in turn will help them save money. Australians will be able to compare offers, get access to cheaper products and plans to help them ‘make the switch’ and get greater value for money. 

    But the above research has found that under the current policy settings consumers are not getting the full range of benefits from the electric smart meters rollout, for a few main reasons. 

    The main consumer benefit of a smart meters is to reduce electricity bills. But to do this, consumers need easy access to their daily electricity usage data, which can then be translated into useful information that enables them to compare electricity prices and tariffs. Consumers need to be able choose such value-added services from third party providers by granting access to this data. 

    But consumers cannot currently access their daily electricity usage data when they need it free of charge. Energy companies can charge a fee to provide consumer data, effectively blocking rival companies that might be offering cheaper tariffs. If consumers themselves could allow third parties to access their metering data, subject to security and privacy protections, it would give those consumers a much wider choice of tariffs and services. 

    When there are such restrictions on consumers which make it difficult for them to choose the cheapest electricity plans, the whole purpose of smart meter rollout is lost. But all is not lost when consumers choose Energy Umpire to manage their electricity bills. Make the smart choice of getting Energy Umpire manage your energy bills and ensure you get the cheapest electricity rates, all the time! 

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