Endeavour to roll out smart meters after regulator approves waiver

New South Wales electricity distributor Endeavour Energy will upgrade the meters of thousands of customers throughout the state as part of a trial that aims to manage peak energy demand, provide participants with access to innovative energy services, and lower network costs for consumers.

Endeavour Energy will install about 5,600 smart meters across New South Wales (NSW) after the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) granted the distributed network service provider a ‘trial waiver’ that exempts the time-limited project from existing rules.

Endeavour said the 30-month trial is expected to improve the delivery of load management services that reduce electricity consumption at peak periods and lower electricity network costs for trial participants.

“This new approach will give customers greater control over their electricity use and allow them to soak up excess solar power generated in the middle of the day to heat hot water, helping lower their electricity bills,” it said.

AER Chair Clare Savage 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,” she said.

The trial waiver is the first granted through the Energy Innovation Toolkit, an online platform designed to help energy businesses explore their options when launching new projects and programs under existing frameworks.

Savage said the waiver was approved under new powers that allow the AER to temporarily exempt eligible projects from having to comply with specified laws and rules.

“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,” she said.

The trial waiver will allow exempt Endeavour from current regulations which dictate that retailers are responsible for the installation of smart meters with distributed network service providers only able to initiate metering upgrades after being notified that the existing meter is faulty.

The trial waiver will allow Endeavour – which owns, maintains and operates the electrical distribution network supplying more than 2.6 million people in households and businesses across Sydney’s Greater West, Blue Mountains, Southern Highlands the Illawarra and the South Coast – to “initiate the meter swap in circumstances where there is no genuine metering fault.”

The regulator said the trial is subject to a range of conditions including consumer protection measures and reporting requirements.

Endeavour has appointed Intellihub, the smart meter company owned by Canada’s Brookfield and Australian firm Pacific Equity Partners, as its metering coordinator to undertake the meter replacements but one of the conditions of the trial waiver requires the distributor to allow a participant’s retailer to appoint their preferred metering coordinator, provided it can deliver the services within the planned timeframe and for a price agreed between Endeavour and the retailer.

The AER said lessons learnt from the trial will help the regulator better understand the impacts of distribution businesses rolling out smart meters with the learnings to be shared publicly at its conclusion of the trial in 2025.

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