Rule change to allow consumers to self-read meters

The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) has made a draft determination that will allow electricity meter self-reads.

If implemented, the rule would give consumers the right to request an inaccurately estimated energy bill be adjusted in accordance with the customer’s own reading of their electricity or gas meter.

Under the National Energy Retail Rules, electricity and gas retailers may base bills on an estimated read if a meter reader has been unable to do an actual read, due to a locked gate or dog in the yard, for example.

The draft rule would require retailers to accept meter reads provided by customers who think their estimated electricity or gas bill is wrong.

“This draft determination endorses the core elements of the Federal Government’s rule change proposal made in March, requesting the AEMC improve the National Energy Retail Rules to take action on bills based on inaccurately estimated usage,” Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said.

“The proposed amendments to the rules will reduce the risk of customers being exposed to the financial shock of significant under or overcharging due to an inaccurately estimated bill.”

Beyond requiring retailers to adjust an estimated bill with a self-read at the customer’s request, the proposed changes will also introduce an obligation on retailers to inform customers of their right to request an adjusted bill.

The AEMC has also recommended the introduction of civil penalty provisions if a retailer does not comply with these new obligations.

“While some retailers already offer their customers the ability to submit a self-reading of their meter, these changes will ensure everyone has the ability to rectify an inaccurately estimated bill,” Mr Frydenberg said.

These new rules will complement actions already taken by the Federal Government as part of the plan to deliver more affordable energy for Australian households, including:

  • a rule change requiring energy retailers to notify their customers when their discounts are about to finish or change;
  • a rule change proposal requiring retailers to provide their customers with advance notice of price changes; and
  • a rule change proposal to reduce the time it takes to install new meters.