The Australian Energy Council has launched a campaign to alert customers of steps to help avoid estimated bills which can occur when a property’s electricity meter can’t be physically read.
The AEC’s Chief Executive Sarah McNamara said, “We know customers don’t like to receive estimated reads, so this campaign is designed to alert households to steps they can take to reduce the chance of receiving an estimated bill.
“We saw recently with lockdowns in New South Wales and the ACT, in particular, some services such as meter reading were suspended or could not be performed because of COVID-related restrictions. Although smart meters can be read remotely, traditional meters cannot. So if a traditional meter is inside a dwelling or physical distancing is not possible, an estimated read may be the only option available when COVID restrictions are in place.”
Electricity retailers depend on receiving the meter information from their distributor to accurately bill for the energy used at a premises. These are usually read every 2-3 months and must be read at least once every year.
Other reasons why a meter may not be able to be read include if safe access to the site isn’t possible, for instance because there are unrestrained pets or a locked gate. In rarer instances it can be because of severe weather or events like flooding or bushfires. There may also be faulty meter reading equipment or issues with the meter data that led to an estimation.
When a meter read cannot occur the bill can be estimated and is usually based on previous usage at the home for a similar period. Any under or over estimation of usage is reconciled in the next billing cycle. The reconciliation ensures customers are only billed for the energy they actually used.
“Your bill will indicate if the reading was estimated and the simplest way to know if it reflects the power you actually used is to review the usage amount on the bill with your meter’s reading.
“If you have a concern after taking your own meter reading let your retailer know and advise of the actual reading and they will be able to reconcile it and update your bill,” Ms McNamara said.
The Australian Energy Council has produced a fact sheet and is launching a social media campaign to alert customers to situations where estimated reads may occur and steps they may be able to take to avoid an estimated read.
About the Australian Energy Council
The Council represents 20 major electricity and downstream natural gas businesses operating in the competitive wholesale and retail energy markets. These businesses collectively generate the overwhelming majority of electricity in Australia, sell gas and electricity to over 10 million homes and businesses, and are major investors in renewable energy generation.
Australian retail household electricity prices in the National Electricity Market are the lowest they have been for eight years and are the 10th lowest of the 38 OECD countries, according to analysis undertaken by the Australian Energy Council.
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