With the roll-out of the Smart Meter in NSW starting in earnest I get asked every day what is it all about? As a Level Two Meter installer here is my views of the deregulated Electricity market with Smart Meters driving the new smart grid.
Do I need to get a Smart Meter Now?
There is no rush to get a Smart Meter as they will always be available and once you have one installed there is not going back to your old Net, Gross or time of use Meter. This means if the Smart Meter gives you a bum deal your stuck with it forever!
How are Smart Meters connected?
Smart Meters connect to the Mobile Network just like any mobile phone. Big deal right? Well consider if the Smart Meter is installed directly out side your (or worse still) your kids bed room. Would you sleep with a Mobile Phone that pumps out EFM all night near your bed? If you do your nuts and haven’t read the Electro Magnetic Frequency (EMF) warnings that come with every Mobile phone that tells you not to keep it on your person and always use it at a distance (hands Free). I don’t know about you but if the Meter is anywhere near me or my kids I am not taking any chances.
Smart Meters and a remote connection?
Smart Meters can be turned off remotely. Yes I will say it again if you don’t pay your bill they can turn your power off from a computer in some for off foreign land. Off Course computers never glitch and you always pay your bills on time, Right?
Smart Meters and fees?
There is a lot of talk about a new maintenance fee on the Meter. I have heard it could be as high as $75:00 on your bill. If you do opt for a Smart Meter you might want to ask first and get it in writing that you will never be one of those suckers that gets slugged with new future Smart Meter Fees.
Smart Meters and power shortages?
It is possible that during a brown out when there is very limited amount of power available that premium clients (those that are on a fixed price plan for example) will be the last to get their power turned off. Power shortages are nothing new and can happen due to storms (think about Adelaide) taking out part of the grid, or on hot summer nights when there is not enough electricity due to extreme demand. The Smart Meter will enable load shedding (turning off) of selected house holds. And because I wont have a Smart Meter that wont be me.
Smart Meters are they really FREE?
My old man told me that there is not such thing as a free lunch. If you think the power companies are giving you a Free Smart Meter you might consider that no business is in the business of giving money away unless they intend to get it back plus some. The way they could and most probably will get their very considerable investment of millions of dollars back is by raising new tariffs at will alter the cost of your electricity depending on the time of day your use it and what the demand on the Net Electricity Net Work is when you use it. In short unless you can afford new smart appliances which will work during the day when the power is at a cheaper rate, solar + batteries to help you cover possible night time high tariffs and say you have a family that will use power in peak times (sadly this is when your kids get home until you go to bed) then run a mile – run while you still can!
Solar Rebate, is it coming to an end in 2016?
If you have Solar and are worried about the end of the Solar rebate scheme at the end of 2016 the best thing you can do is to get your Gross Meter re-wired to Net. Then you will be able to self consume your own Solar power rather than exporting it to the grid for a small sum. The Meter swap or rewire will cost you as little as $240:00 if you have single phase power. Get this done at the end of 2016 so that you will maximise your 60 cent feed in tariff right to the end of December 2016. Get in contact with your local Level Two Electrician to organise this.
Smart Meters are optional in NSW so consider exercising your option not to have one installed by calling your power company and stopping it before it happens. You have nothing much to loose!
Mark Cave is the owner and Manager of Cave Electrical and Solar and is happy to answer any questions you might have on 0419 001001.