Avoiding bill shock with electricity and gas meter self-reads

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Minister for Energy

Avoiding bill shock with electricity and gas meter self-reads

Media release
25 October 2018

Australian families and small businesses are being empowered to negotiate with their power company following a determination made by the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) to give customers the right to ask their energy retailer to adjust an inaccurate bill based on the customer’s own reading of their meter.

Under the existing rules, energy retailers can estimate a customer’s bill in certain circumstances, but inaccurate overestimates of a customer’s usage can lead to higher than expected bills.

Disputes over inaccurate readings are one of the most frequent sources of customer complaint.

Enabling customers to do meter self-reads will reduce the risk of customers being exposed to the financial shock of inaccurately estimated bills.

From 1 February 2019, retailers will be required to let customers know they can provide their own meter reading instead of accepting a retailer’s estimate.

The AEMC’s final determination reflects a rule change proposal by the Australian Government in March, which asked the AEMC to improve the National Energy Retail Rules to take action on inaccurate bill estimates.

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 AEMC has also recommended the introduction of civil penalty provisions if a retailer does not comply with these new obligations.

These new rules complement actions the Morrison Government is taking to deliver more affordable energy for Australian families and businesses, 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; and
  • A rule change requiring gas and electricity retailers to notify customers of price changes at least five days before they take effect.

Other measures announced this week by the Government to bring prices down while we keep the lights on are:

  • Starting work on a price safety net to stop big power companies ripping off loyal customers who don’t have time to shop around for a better deal.
  • Stopping price gouging by the big energy companies, including banning sneaky late payment penalties and making energy retailers pass on savings in wholesale prices to customers.
  • Backing investment in new power generators to improve competition by underwriting new electricity generation will attract investment in the electricity market, increasing supply and reducing wholesale electricity prices.
  • Supporting reliable power by requiring energy companies to sign contracts guaranteeing enough energy to meet demand.

We are committed to lower power prices, supporting Australians struggling with the cost of living, and backing small businesses so they can take advantage of new opportunities and employ more people.

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