NSW Govt cutting red tape for smart meter savings

smart meter, AER

Smart meter customers across NSW will benefit from savings and an improved connection experience with restrictions on remote connection and disconnection of meters now lifted.

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s executive director Energy Andrew Lewis said by allowing this remote function, customers’ connection fees are expected to fall by at least 75 per cent and they’ll have much quicker access to power once they have moved into a new address.

“We expect connection fees to be in the order of $10 to $20 rather than the present situation where customers are faced with anything from $85 to $530,” Mr Lewis said.

“Customers will no longer have to wait days for an electricity technician to attend the premises before they can switch the lights on – it’ll be a matter of hours for most customers.

Related article:Carbon offsets offer a fantasy of capitalism without crises

“The NSW Government is committed to supporting innovation in the energy sector and improving energy affordability for every household and business in the state.

“By relaxing this restriction, we’re giving retailers an increased incentive to roll out more smart meters across NSW delivering benefits to customers, particularly those in regional NSW who face higher fees for technicians to come out to their property.”

Currently 23 per cent of NSW customers have smart meters, according to the Australian Energy Market Operator, though this is rising quickly.

Related article:Hydro Tasmania announces restructuring, 50 jobs to go

Mr Lewis said existing national consumer protections for vulnerable customers, such as those facing financial stress or with life support equipment, will continue to apply to ensure that no customer would be worse off.

“We also expect adherence to the Australian Energy Regulator’s Statement of Expectations for COVID-19, which requests retailers not to complete any disconnections without the customer’s approval and provide additional support to vulnerable customers until at least 31 March 2021.”

Director of Consumer Building & Property at NSW Fair Trading Matthew Whitton said the NSW Government will support the lifting of the restriction by implementing a new safety framework for retailers and metering providers.

“Retailers and metering providers will need to submit plans to NSW Fair Trading covering safety management and customer and technical procedures before they can undertake remote connection and disconnection, because safety is a priority that cannot be compromised.