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Commission Calls for Universal Adoption of ‘Smart Meters’ to Accelerate Net Zero Goals

The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) has called for the rapid deployment of “smart meters” to better manage the country’s energy usage in the race to net zero.

A smart meter is installed in residential homes and allows for real-time data on electricity usage to be sent to providers.

Traditionally, technicians would visit homes to read electricity meters, which would measure usage every 30 minutes of the day.

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The advantage of smart meters for homeowners is that they can better manage how much electricity they consume per day, while on the flip side, providers can bill more accurately rather than with an estimate.

Further, providers will be able to know how much electricity is being consumed per day across a jurisdiction and adjust their prices accordingly.

It comes as energy regulators brace for a surge in electricity usage during peak hours (evenings) amid the soaring uptake of electric vehicles (EVs).

At the same time, regulators are also contending with the closure of coal-fired power stations and a boost in intermittent renewable sources like wind farms and solar energy production.

Necessary for an ‘Orderly Transition’

The AEMC report released at the end of August continues its push for the universal uptake of smart meters by 2030 across Australian jurisdictions (barring Western Australia and the Northern Territory).

“Smart meter data is necessary for an orderly transition to net zero because it empowers consumers, network operators, market participants, and service providers,” the report said (pdf).

“The accelerated smart deployment will also support the efficient integration of EVs into the electricity system by enabling a better understanding of their impact on the grid and the use of potential new tariffs developed for EV customers.”

AEMC Chair Anna Collyer said smart meter uptake would help Australians cut their power bills.

“Going from an old accumulation meter to a smart meter can be like going from a landline to a smartphone, and people deserve transparency and timely information about how they can make the device best work for them,” Ms. Collyer said in a statement.

“Today’s final recommendations aim to address key customer pain points by providing better notice ahead of tariff changes to prevent ‘bill shock,’ as well as guidance for customers about how they can use tariffs to save on their power bill.”

Regulators Bracing for Net Zero

The recommendation comes months after energy operators, Ergon Energy and Energex, in Queensland suggested the wider rollout of “Peaksmart” technology.

Peaksmart is a “demand management” system unique to the state. It works by giving households a cash rebate, and in return, the operator can reduce energy usage during peak times (summer) if it exceeds 20 amps.

The latest Queensland Electricity Connection Manual (QECM) has a new proposal to include Peaksmart for EV charging—a standard domestic single-phase EV charger requires 32 amps.
Federal Nationals MP Keith Pitt, himself an electrical engineer, previously said such proposals revealed operators had little confidence the grid could handle the uptake of electric cars expected in the push towards net zero.

“EV take-up could increase peak demand by as much as 60 percent right across the National Electricity Market,” Mr. Pitt told The Epoch Times.

“That would mean you need a 60 percent increase in generating electricity capacity, transmission, and distribution. So that’s every substation, every cable, every supply point, every house—it will cost an absolute fortune.”

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