AER sandbox trial waiver to help reduce network costs

Smart meter on external wall (sandbox trial)
Image: Shutterstock

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has granted its first trial waiver through the Energy Innovation Toolkit to upgrade around 5,600 smart meters in parts of Greater Western Sydney, the Blue Mountains, the Southern Highlands and the Illawarra region of NSW.

Endeavour Energy has been granted the waiver to implement the trial that is expected to improve the delivery of load management services that reduce electricity consumption at peak periods and lower electricity network costs for consumers. The trial should also enable trial participants to access new and innovative energy services.

Related article: AER launches Energy Innovation Toolkit for businesses

AER chair Clare Savage said enabling energy innovation will play an important role in delivering benefits to consumers through the energy transition.

“This is an important milestone in the AER’s regulatory sandboxing work, and I’m delighted to be able to announce our approval of this time-limited trial waiver for Endeavour Energy.

“The rollout of smart meter upgrades presents significant benefits for both consumers and industry. This trial can help consumers reduce their electricity bills through access to new products and tariffs, better integrated technology and improved understanding of their energy use,” Savage said.

The trial was approved under new powers allowing a time-limited waiver from certain regulatory requirements through the Energy Innovation Toolkit, and is subject to a range of conditions including consumer protection measures, reporting requirements and other obligations.

Lessons learnt from Endeavour Energy’s trial will help the AER better understand the impacts of distribution businesses rolling out smart meters, as well as informing future sandboxing trials. The trial will last for 30 months and learnings will be shared publicly at the conclusion of the trial in 2025.

Also released today, the Energy Innovation Toolkit’s inaugural Year in Review revealed that 491 users have received assistance through the Regulation Navigator Tool and Innovation Enquiry Service in their first year, with the AER issuing 10 new pieces of guidance in response to the most-asked regulatory enquiries.

Related article: Better outcomes but challenges remain, AER report reveals

“Through the Energy Innovation Toolkit we are making it easier for innovators to launch their energy ideas and test new business models in a real-world environment, without risk of negatively disrupting the market.

“We are committed to providing regulatory frameworks that enable energy innovation and will continue to engage extensively with industry, energy stakeholders, policy makers and the broader community to share knowledge and support new ideas through the energy transition,” Savage said.

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