Monday, August 27, 2012

Accessing Smart Meter Raw Data To Help Prove Inaccurate Electricity Billing

Over the last six months, an increasing number of clients have called our office, complaining they had a Smart Meter installed and the electricity bill has more than doubled. In some cases tripled! And what is a common trait with all of these clients, is that nothing else seems to have changed. Change enough that is, to account for this large increase in electricity costs. A cost they are being asked to pay, with little discussion and compassion, offered by the electricity retailer.

In most cases we would have to say the client's electricity usage patterns, are very similar to previous patterns, with the only common change being the installation of Solar PV. And for the Solar PV to be installed, the client has had installed a Smart Meter. This Smart Meter very often having a TIME OF USE [TOU] tariff. Which in most cases is not explained at the time of install, nor fully understood enough by the client even at a later date.  Therefore the client is usually not able to make a case, against the electricity retailer. Trying to prove this new tariff, is not the reason for the increase in electricity costs. Going to all the effort of creating a case for incorrect billing, is a very time consuming process and is something most householders, simply do not have the time for.

It appears after a few quick searches on Google, for 'Smart Meter High Electricity Billing', that there are a considerable growing number of homes around Australia, all with the same issue. The issue of inaccurate electricity billing, after a Smart Meter has been installed. Once you do a search for yourself and read a few reports, you will understand why we say Inaccurate Electricity Billing.

In many cases the electricity retailer says the meter is not at fault and what energy is reported on the bill, has in fact been used by the householder. Now whilst we do not want to discuss in depth here, all of the various reasons as to what may be the cause, where these reasons are highlighted by various media sources and online forums, time and time again. It does raise the question of the quality of the tests, to prove the meters in question are actually billing correctly. Testing often, where no other meter is installed in-line with the meter in doubt. It is the electricity distributor who is responsible for testing and replacing faulty electricity meters. A cost, that no doubt someone is not wanting to pay!

A householder choosing to make the decision to install a HOME ELECTRICITY MONITORING SOLUTION, would at least have the tools to analyse and record electricity usage, further taking steps to reduce usage, before finally battling with the idea, there may be an issue with the electricity billing process.

“Just pay the bill”, with little or no explanation from the electricity retailer is a common scenario. There is an increasing number of householders in Australia, starting to question these supposedly SMART meters!

So what can you do when your electricity bill suddenly takes a hike? We would suggest you take the following steps.

  • Contact your electricity retailer,  noting the electricity retailer's contact name, id, location of call centre, time and date of call. If you can record the phone call, do so.
  • Ask the electricity retailer for a copy of the Smart Meter's raw data. This will be the data the electricity distributor's meter reader obtained by using a 'probe device' from your Smart Meter. Note you will require a copy of the original data as collected by the distributor. The data the electricity retailer may have, may be different in format and compiled from the original electricity distributor's data. This data further should be actual data dump and not in anyway estimated data. This data dump is often termed 'NEM12 data dump'.
  • The ELECTRICITY RETAILER will lodge a request with the ELECTRICITY DISTRIBUTOR for the data. Remember the outcome of this exercise is to get the raw data, which can be emailed to you. Under no circumstances agree to a meter test or check reading, until you have the data needed, otherwise this may be offered as the end solution. You may have to pay for a meter test or check reading. Your aim is to get your hands on the Smart Meter's raw data. Details on what to do with this data dump, will be detailed later in another blog post.

If the Smart Meter's raw data is not forthcoming within a reasonable time frame or you feel you are being given the run around, then we suggest you simply lodge a complaint with your STATE'S ENERGY OMBUDSMAN. A complaint will be opened by the Ombudsman and all payments for electricity, could be  placed on hold, until a suitable outcome is obtained.

To highlight this issue of supposedly INACCURATE ELECTRICITY BILLING, one case out there in the public domain, has a householder questioning the accuracy of electricity billing. Where it is reported the electricity retailer has billed the householder many times, all with different amounts based on the same collected electricity data. What is more alarming is the electricity retailers data, is further reported as having the householder using more energy than was actually supplied to the home! Now how can that happen logically! It is all to do with software & maths reading collected data, it seems.

The more you research into Smart Meters & High Electricity Bills, the more you realise something is WRONG here! All backed up by the increasing number of complaints to each State's Energy Ombudsman and those inaccurate home electricity bills, householders are more so suffering from all around Australia. No matter what electricity distributor, or retailer householders are dealing with, this issue is getting bigger! 

To learn about optional independent monitoring and analysis of your electricity usage and / or solar pv system's output, visit our ONLINE ELECTRICITY MONITORING page, where we make the task of getting your data online, very easy.

This blog post and podcast brought to you by Aussie Home Energy, a major player in the HOME ELECTRICITY REDUCTION SERVICE industry in Australia.

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