The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) has announced it will conduct a review of the rules surrounding electricity meters to see if more can be done to help customers benefit more from smart meter technology.

The review will assess what might be needed for increased take-up of smart meters, and whether roles and responsibilities around metering under current rules need revising.

It will look at what else might be needed to drive retail innovation so smart meters can propel the future energy market towards one that is two-sided – where all types of energy users actively buy and sell electricity or their demand for electricity.

In 2017 the AEMC introduced new rules around competition in metering, including transferring responsibilities for metering away from distribution network service providers. The reforms were designed to increase competition, encourage new products, services and pricing to benefit consumers, and give them better information about their energy use.

The AEMC committed to reviewing the change after three years to assess how the market had developed. During those three years, the energy landscape has changed significantly.

While smart meter use has not accelerated to the degree some people expect, this technology will be integral to work now under way to help the power system transition.

Smart meters will be key to integrating distributed energy resources such as solar PV, electric vehicles and battery technology. They will also be an important consideration in developing a two-sided market, which is one of several post 2025 market development initiatives being led by the Energy Security Board.

This focus on the grid of the future is particularly relevant to smart meter technology as it relies on greater access to data and demand side participation.

The review conducted by the AEMC will be broader than originally envisaged when it first drafted the metering reforms back in 2015. Not only will it look at the ability of small customers to appoint their own metering coordinator and whether some form of access regulation is required for metering services, it will also look more holistically at the entire framework governing metering.

The Commission is seeking stakeholder input on the regulatory framework. In a consultation paper released today the AEMC are asking a range of questions including:

  • Whether expectations around smart meter rollout have been met
  • What level of benefits consumers are experiencing from smart meters
  • What the barriers might be to wider smart meter rollout and use
  • What services smart meters might be expected to deliver in future

The AEMC have already conducted preliminary consultations on the metering reforms and are now seeking broader input. Submissions to the consultation paper are due on Thursday 11 February 2021.

The Commission will also establish a reference group and are inviting interested stakeholders to register their interest for this by 11 February 2021.

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