Electricity meter rules are set to undergo a review by the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) to investigate how customers can further benefit from smart meter technology.

The review will assess what might be needed for increased take-up of smart meters, and whether roles and responsibilities around metering under current rules need revising.

It will look at what else might be needed to drive retail innovation so smart meters can propel the future energy market towards one that is two-sided – where all types of energy users actively buy and sell electricity or their demand for electricity.

In 2017, the AEMC introduced new rules around competition in metering, including transferring responsibilities for metering away from distribution network service providers. 

The reforms were designed to increase competition, encourage new products, services and pricing to benefit consumers, and give them better information about their energy use.

The AEMC committed to reviewing the change after three years to assess how the market had developed. During those three years, the energy landscape has changed significantly.

While smart meter use has not accelerated to the degree some people expected, this technology will be integral to work now underway to help the power system transition.

Smart meters will be key to integrating distributed energy resources such as solar PV, electric vehicles and battery technology. They will also be an important consideration in developing a two-sided market, which is one of several post-2025 market development initiatives being led by the Energy Security Board.

This focus on the grid of the future is particularly relevant to smart meter technology as it relies on greater access to data and demand-side participation.

The review the AEMC conducts will be broader than originally envisaged when it first drafted the metering reforms back in 2015. 

Not only will the AEMC look at the ability of small customers to appoint their own metering coordinator and whether some form of access regulation is required for metering services, it will also look more holistically at the entire framework governing metering.

The AEMC is seeking stakeholder input on the regulatory framework. The consultation paper released on 3 December asks a range of questions, including:

  • Whether expectations around smart meter rollout have been met
  • What level of benefits consumers are experiencing from smart meters
  • What the barriers might be to wider smart meter rollout and use
  • What services smart meters might be expected to deliver in future

The AEMC has already conducted preliminary consultations on the metering reforms and is now seeking broader input. Submissions to its consultation paper are due on Thursday 11 February 2021.

The AEMC will also establish a reference group, and is inviting interested stakeholders to register their interest for this by 11 February 2021.

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