Grumpy / Getting up the energy to change the meter

Smart electricity meters aren’t such a clever move if the frustrating experience of reader MJ Brown, of Yarralumla, is any guide.

SEVERAL months ago I took the time to examine my energy bills and discovered that I did not have access to a scheme that enabled me to control my energy usage to minimise cost as I was able to do years ago in the UK.

After numerous phone calls to my supplier, Origin Energy, and thereafter to AGL I was told that I might be able to purchase a one- or two-way meter, but before I did so, I needed to have an electrician come to my house to advise me.

Since no one could explain why this was necessary or explain the steps involved in the process, I complained to the energy ombudsman, the ACAT.

After an exceptionally prompt investigation and thorough response, ACAT advised that I could purchase a two-way meter for a specific price, but still no one from the energy sector could tell me why an electrician had to come to my house to advise me beforehand. It was a catch-22. Why would I pay to have a call out if I found the meter and installation charges were too expensive, the estimated money I would save inadequate to justify the expenditure or the placement of the meter simply unsuitable because I live in a townhouse?

Now after even more reading and research, I realise I could have bought either a one- or two-way meter. Problem is that the installation of a two-way meter is a plus for burglars who can determine levels of usage and time their burglaries when the occupant is away (“Cyber crime warning over smart meters”, “Sydney Morning Herald”, April 2017).

And from reports to date, I have learned that it appears that money saved from the installation of a smart meter in NSW increases the costs to consumers, but benefits the energy company (‘Flexible pricing plans costing additional $370 for electricity”, “SMH”, May 2017). Whoever would have guessed?

As for energy costs, I did a comparison of relevant rates for my type of usage in the ACT and found they were exactly the same irrespective of the provider. When I asked one provider to explain how the tariffs were the same, given that they were in “competition”, he told me the deciding factor for a consumer was the level of customer service provided. Too bad ACAT doesn’t supply energy.

Grumpy is an occasional column dedicated purely to things that get up your nose. Readers are invited to vent (no more than 300 words, please) at editor@citynews.com.au

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