Smart meters FAQs

What is a smart meter?

Smart meters are up to date two-way, digital communication systems that record electricity usage every 30 minutes and automatically send this data to a your electricity distributor.

If you live in Victoria, you could benefit from new electricity plans designed for smart meters. See EnergyAustralia’s flexible pricing option

Do I have to have a smart meter?

It is the Victorian Government’s policy objective that electricity distributors roll out new smart meters to all Victorian homes and small businesses by the end of 2013. So, if you don’t have one already, you will soon.

Will my electricity plans and prices change when I get a new meter?

No, prices will not change when you get a new meter. A new type of electricity rate called ‘flexible pricing’ will be rolled out on a voluntary basis from 1 July 2013. Flexible pricing is explained at the Department of Primary Industries smart meters website.

Older style time-of-use tariffs have been around for some time and customers who already have time-of-use rates (e.g. off-peak rates for weekends) will continue to receive these rates.

How can I benefit from the new functionality that smart meters have?

As smart meters record your electricity use in half hourly blocks, you will have access to more up-to-date information about the energy you use. 

You could also benefit from new products designed for smart meters depending on your lifestyle. In Victoria, from 1 July 2013, EnergyAustralia will be introducing an optional new way of charging for your electricity use, called flexible pricing.

If you regularly use electricity in non-peak times, or are willing to change your energy usage behaviour to non-peak periods, we have electricity plans to suit your needs and lifestyle. These new tariffs will mean you pay different rates, depending on the time of day and day of week that you use your energy. You will typically pay higher rates for the energy you use at peak times, but lower rates for energy used in shoulder and off-peak times. This new way of charging encourages people to change their electricity use to lower cost times, highlighting the potential to save on electricity costs.

How are the costs of the smart meter being recovered?

The distributors pass the costs through to electricity retailers over a number of years, and you’ll pay for these charges via your electricity bill.
For questions regarding the Australian Energy Regulator’s approval of distributors’ cost recovery for rolling out the new smart meters, visit the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources - Smartmeters.

Will I receive a smart meter if I am currently transferring to a new electricity retailer?

All Victorian residential and small business customers will get a smart meter regardless of whether you change your electricity retailer. It‘s unlikely that you will receive a smart meter at the same time that you change retailer. If you don’t already have a smart meter, it will be installed when the distributor is installing them in your area.

How do I know if I have a smart meter?

A smart meter measures and records electricity use at different times of the day. A smart meter records electricity use every half hour and gives you more information on the use of electricity in your home which allows you to find ways to control your bills. Distributors are rolling out smart meters to all Victorian households and small businesses and aim to be finished by the end of 2013. You will be advised directly by your electricity distributor when smart meters are installed in your area.

Can I volunteer to get my smart meter installed now?

In order to maximise the efficiency of the smart meter rollout across the state, you will not be able to request the installation of a smart meter. These will be done in designated areas at designated times.

I understand that smart meters use radio frequency communication. Is this safe?

The smart metering equipment is required to comply with Australian safety standards.

The smart metering system makes use of low power radio (RF) transmitters to communicate meter readings in the range of 900MHz, 2.3GHz or 2.4GHz. These communications frequencies are within Australian guidelines and are governed by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

What does a smart meter look like?

There are a number of different types and models, but most smart meters are a similar size to the old electricity meters, but with digital displays and no dial

img smart meter tools

Where can I get more information on the Victorian Government’s smart meter initiative?

For questions regarding Victorian Government policy on smart meters, visit the Department of Primary Industries or call 136 186.

For questions regarding the smart meter installation and operation, please contact the electricity distributor in your area.

For questions regarding the Australian Energy Regulator’s approval of distributors’ cost recovery for rolling out the new smart meters, visit the Australian Energy Regulator.

Will I have to pay the installer for the smart meter to be installed?

The distributors will pass these costs through to your electricity retailer and the costs of the installation will be recovered through your electricity bill over a number of years. This is the usual way in which industry programs are funded.

How will I know if my meter's been replaced with a new smart meter?

Once your area is scheduled for the smart meter installation, you will receive introductory letters from the Victorian Government and your electricity distributor about the smart meter replacement program.

Your electricity distributor will then advise you when the installation will take place – providing a 10-day time frame in which the installation will occur.

Before the smart meter installation occurs, the qualified meter installer appointed by your electricity distributor will knock on your door to inform you that the installation is about to occur. In normal circumstances however, there’s no need for you to be present.

Once the meter installation is complete, the meter installer will leave information at your premises to advise you that the meter installation is complete and provide details on how to read your new smart meter.

Will my first bill after the meter replacement look any different?

Not necessarily. If you're an EnergyAustralia customer, you’ll be notified of any changes to your electricity bill prior to or at the time you receive your bill.