A trial of card-operated meters in remote Indigenous communities is about to shift to a new phase, which will provide unprecedented insight into the needs of users.
Ergon Energy has trialled upgraded meters with customers at Wujal Wujal and Hammond Island, part of the Torres Strait islands. It gives Ergon the capacity to tightly manage its electricity use and the associated cost by using the new Paywave powercard in their meters to initiate electricity access.
The cutting-edge meters provide two-way communication and extensive data flow back to Ergon.
“We will be able to tell how many times customers go into emergency credit, how often they self-disconnect, regularly receive energy usage stats and regular meter reading,” Ergon’s Russell Rowbotham said.
“This extra data will help us to better understand our customers and help us become more customer focussed in our interactions with our communities.”
Phase-one of the trial has relied heavily upon extensive customer engagement, getting users on board and promoting the benefits of the new meters.
Members of the nine-person project team were drawn from Ergon’s Isolated Systems Customer Partnership, customer service field crews and retail representatives. They were highly visible in the communities, auditing metering assets, reviewing hot water system tariffs and getting to know customers.
An added benefit arising from the doorknocks and local information sessions was that the team identified an extra 16 customers who were eligible for concessions.
The next phase of the project will also see many of the new meters being linked to the customer’s Powercard, facilitating the $320 annual Queensland electricity rebate.