Endeavour updates meters in peak consumption trial

  • October 16, 2023
  • Steve Rogerson

Australian utility Endeavour Energy is about to upgrade 5600 smart meters in New South Wales in a trial to reduce energy consumption at peak periods.

This follows the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) granting its first trial waiver through the Energy Innovation Toolkit (energyinnovationtoolkit.gov.au) to upgrade meters in parts of Greater Western Sydney, Blue Mountains, Southern Highlands and the Illawarra regions of NSW.

The trial is expected to improve the delivery of load management services that reduce electricity consumption at peak periods and lower electricity network costs for consumers. Trial participants should also be able to access new and innovative energy services.

AER chair Clare Savage said enabling energy innovation would play an important role in delivering benefits to consumers through the energy transition.

“This is an important milestone in the AER’s regulatory sandboxing work, and I’m delighted to be able to announce our approval of this time-limited trial waiver for Endeavour Energy,” she said. “The rollout of smart meter upgrades presents significant benefits for both consumers and industry. This trial can help consumers reduce their electricity bills through access to new products and tariffs, better integrated technology, and improved understanding of their energy use.”

The trial was approved under powers allowing a time-limited waiver from certain regulatory requirements through the Energy Innovation Toolkit, and is subject to a range of conditions including consumer protection measures, reporting requirements and other obligations.

Lessons learnt from Endeavour Energy’s trial should help the AER better understand the impacts of distribution businesses rolling out smart meters, as well as informing future sandboxing trials. The trial will last for 30 months and learnings will be shared publicly at the conclusion of the trial in 2025.

The Energy Innovation Toolkit’s inaugural Year in Review revealed that 491 users have received assistance through the regulation navigator tool and innovation enquiry service in their first year, with the AER issuing ten new pieces of guidance in response to the most-asked regulatory enquiries.

“Through the Energy Innovation Toolkit, we are making it easier for innovators to launch their energy ideas and test new business models in a real-world environment, without risk of negatively disrupting the market,” said Savage. “We are committed to providing regulatory frameworks that enable energy innovation and will continue to engage extensively with industry, energy stakeholders, policy makers and the broader community to share knowledge and support new ideas through the energy transition.”

The Energy Innovation Toolkit is led by the AER and supported by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC), Essential Services Commission of Victoria (ESC) and Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Arena). The toolkit forms part of the AER’s regulatory sandboxing function.

Under current arrangements, distributed network service providers such as Endeavour Energy do not have a role in the upgrading of meters to smart meters. However, in certain circumstances, they can initiate metering replacements after giving notice when the meter is faulty. Endeavour Energy sought a waiver to run the trial investigating enabling the issue of a meter fault notice (MFN) to initiate the meter swap in circumstances where there is no genuine metering fault. New provisions in the National Energy Laws let the AER grant such waivers to support innovation, knowledge-sharing and, more broadly, the energy transition.

The AER (www.aer.gov.au), in granting trial waivers can apply a range of conditions including consumer protection measures, reporting requirements and other obligations, to support the market while applicants are running their trial. As a condition of the waiver, Endeavour Energy is required to report to the AER on any request by a retailer of trial customers to engage metering coordinators appointed by those retailers via competitive processes.

Endeavour Energy (www.endeavourenergy.com.au) must also agree to allow the retailer to appoint any such nominated metering coordinators, provided they can provide the services within the timeframes planned and for a price agreed between Endeavour and the retailer. Endeavour Energy has appointed Intellihub (www.intellihub.com.au) as its metering coordinator to undertake these meter replacements.