Minister for Energy Angus Taylor has said from February 1, 2019, retailers will be required to let customers know they can provide their own meter reading instead of accepting retailers’ estimates.
Under the existing rules, energy retailers can estimate a customer’s bill in certain circumstances, but according to a statement from the energy minister’s office, inaccurate overestimates can lead to higher than expected bills.
The statement said disputes over inaccurate readings are one of the most frequent sources of customer complaint and enabling customers to do meter self-reads will reduce the risk of customers being exposed to the financial shock of inaccurately estimated bills.
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The new rules will be as simple as taking a photo of an accumulation meter and sending to an energy retailer, calling the retailers and reading the meter, or logging onto a retailer’s website and entering the correct reading.
The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) has also recommended the introduction of civil penalty provisions if a retailer does not comply with these new obligations.
These new rules are in addition to actions the Morrison Government is taking in relation to energy policy, including:
- A rule change requiring energy retailers to notify their customers when their discounts are about to finish or change
- A rule change to allow customers to stop energy discounting practices that can leave customers worse off
- A rule change requiring gas and electricity retailers to notify customers of price changes at least five days before they take effect.
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Other measures announced this week by the government are:
- Starting work on a price safety net
- Banning late payment penalties and making energy retailers pass on savings in wholesale prices to customers
- Backing investment in new power generators to improve competition
- Requiring energy companies to sign contracts guaranteeing enough energy to meet demand.