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Questions and Answers – Smart Meter Program

General

What is a smart meter?

A smart meter is a digital meter that has the ability to: record electricity consumption by the half hour; allow for the remote reading of electricity meters; provide greater detail around electricity consumption; and enable your electricity distributor to detect and restore power outages faster.

Why has the Victorian Government initiated a smart meter rollout?

The rollout of smart meters supports an important part of the Victorian Government’s future energy strategy. The intention is to encourage consumers to use smart meters to better manage their energy consumption and reduce their electricity bills in the long term. For more information on the Government’s energy policy, visit www.dpi.vic.gov.au/smartmeters

What were the outcomes of the Victorian Government review?

The Victorian Government review has confirmed the continued rollout of smart meters to all homes and small businesses with improvements that bring greater benefits to consumers, sooner. These benefits include helping consumers better understand and control their energy consumption through devices like in-home displays.

Do I have to have a smart meter installed?

The Government has mandated that all residential and small business electricity customers have a smart meter installed. As the electricity distribution business in your area, SP AusNet is required to install a smart meter at your premises.

What happens if I continue to refuse to have the meter installed?

It is important that you are aware of the relationship you have with, and your rights and obligations with respect to the connection of your premises to our network. The Electricity Distribution Code is available from the Essential Services Commission website or by calling 1300 664 969.

SP AusNet’s Electricity Distribution Customer Charter is available at www.sp-ausnet.com.au or by calling 1300 360 795.

We will continue to work with you to address any concerns, to ensure you have the right information about the rollout of smart meters and how to access the benefits.

Safety

How do I know the meter is safe?

The Victorian Government’s review confirmed that Victorians can be confident that meters are being installed safely. The State’s independent safety regulator Energy Safe Victoria (ESV) is required to assess and approve electricity distributors’ safety procedures, including those for smart meter installation. All smart meters must be thoroughly tested after they are installed to ensure they meet all relevant safety standards and requirements. The Government has also released an independent report that found electromagnetic and radio frequency emissions from smart meters fall well within Australian standards.

Do I get to keep the electrical safety certificate?

The installer will complete an ESV approved Electrical Safety Advice Card for each installation and provide it to the consumer. The Safety Advice Card certifies that the installation has passed all required tests and complies with the requirements of the Electrical Safety Act 1998 and regulations.  The installer’s name and Licence Number are also identified on the card.

Do smart meters emit radio frequency?

All smart meters being installed in Victoria involve lower electromagnetic exposures than many other household devices such as mobile phones and baby monitors, and are subject to regulatory arrangements made by the Australian Communications and Media Authority, and compliance with the electromagnetic exposure limits developed by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA). 

The Victorian Government also commissioned independent testing by EMC Technologies to ensure smart meters do not pose health risks to the community.  Results showed that meter exposure levels inside dwellings ranged from 0.000001% to 0.0113% of the General Public Limit specified by ARPANSA Radiation Protection Standards.  The full report is available on the DSDBI website

Independent studies by SP AusNet in April 2011 also confirmed that communication frequencies are well below Australian standards.

Responsibility

Who owns the meter?

The electricity meter is owned by SP AusNet. Unauthorised tampering with, or removal of an electricity meter contravenes Section 3.3.1 of the Electricity Distribution Code and is a criminal offence.

As a customer, what do I need to do?

You will need to ensure that the meter installer has safe and clear access to the meter, and the meter’s wiring and enclosure is safe. If you have any concerns about the safety of your meter, please contact a registered electrical contractor to inspect the site prior to the meter installation taking place.

Can I remove the smart meter?

No. The electricity meter is owned by your electricity distribution business. Unauthorised tampering with, or removal of an electricity meter contravenes Section 3.3.1 of the Electricity Distribution Code and is a criminal offence.

Costs

Will I need to pay for the smart meter to be installed?

You are not required to pay any direct costs to have a smart meter installed. The cost of the smart meter rollout is recovered through the supply charge on your electricity bill – similar to how current meter and infrastructure costs are recovered today.

Will my electricity bill increase once the smart meter is installed?

Having a smart meter installed does not change the electricity tariff or unit price you pay for the power you consume.  If you have questions about your electricity account, you should contact your electricity retailer (the business who sends your electricity bills).

What is flexible pricing or ‘time of use’ tariffs?

In the future, flexible pricing or ‘time of use’ tariffs may be introduced which will vary the price of electricity based on the time of day or week. This pricing structure would be aimed at giving consumers greater flexibility around energy use and help manage energy costs more effectively. The Victorian Government has put a hold on introducing flexible pricing until reviews of their impact have taken place. Your electricity retailer will notify you if there are any changes to your retail prices or charges.

Other

What is an in-home device?

When coupled with an interactive device (in-home displays or web portal) smart meters provide more information to help customers better understand when and how to use electricity. In-home displays and web portals make the real-time data captured by smart meters readily available to households and businesses, empowering consumers with the information they need to better manage their electricity bills. In-home displays and web portals can provide information about hourly, daily, weekly and seasonal consumption, so you can view energy usage as you go. The Victorian Government will subsidise the purchase of in-home displays to help household’s better control their energy bills.

Is the information collected about me and my electricity usage secure and will it remain confidential?

Your personal information:  Energy businesses in Australia must comply with the Federal Privacy Act (1998) which includes the National Privacy Principles. This sets clear restrictions on the use, disclosure and storage of personal information.  Access to personal information is restricted with staff security checks mandatory. The DSDBI also commissioned an independent investigation into privacy issues around smart meters, conducted by Lockstep Consulting, which found no unauthorised disclosures of personal information associated with the smart meter program.  A copy of the report is available on the DSDBI website.

Your electricity usage data:  the collection, use and disclosure of metering data are also subject to strict confidentiality rules set out by the Essential Services Commission’s licensing framework and the National Electricity Rules.

 

Want to know more? Contact our Customer Service Centre on 1300 360 795.



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