Pictured: Mr Joyce meeting with local business operators in Tamworth earlier this year to discuss the excessive meter installation delays caused by the big electricity retailers.
Advocacy by the Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, has helped deliver new rules on household electricity meters to guarantee certainty for local consumers.
Electricity retailers will have up to six business days to install new meters and a maximum of 15 business days to replace existing meters, unless customers agree to a date range proposed by the retailer, under a new rule determination made by the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC).
It follows Mr Joyce’s meeting in June with electrical contractors from across the New England and subsequent representation to then Minister for Environment and Energy, Josh Frydenberg MP, to address excessive meter installation delays which have had a severe impact on local customers and electrical contractors. Delays can lead to no access to electricity and can result in higher bills than necessary.
Under existing rules, retailers are only required to install meters within set timeframes if the existing meter is malfunctioning. The new rule will extend to customers wishing to replace their existing meter with a smart meter, for newly built houses or after a customer has solar panels installed.
“Businesses and residents throughout my New England electorate have been caught up in this mess by the big electricity retailers, and are understandably outraged these companies can get away with this,” Mr Joyce said.
“So I went into bat for them, with meetings and representations to the Minister to achieve this great result. This is real grassroots delivery for people in the New England, offering financial certainty and peace of mind when these meters are installed.”
Tim Thompson runs an electrical business in Tamworth supported by a handful of staff. He said the new measures will significantly improve productivity, reducing wait times from months to a matter of days.
“I have some people waiting six months for meters, so this will make a huge difference to us if they can get companies to do it in those timeframes,” Mr Thompson said.
The AEMC has also recommended that retailers should be subject to penalties, such as fines, if they fail to meet the maximum timeframes for meter installations.
The new rule will come into effect from 1 February 2019 across all National Electricity Market jurisdictions except Victoria.
This is further strong action by the Australian Government to ensure energy companies put customers first. This new rule will enable customers to more quickly take control of their energy usage and take advantage of technologies that can put downward pressure on their energy bills.