Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to your Smart Grid, Smart City questions

The Smart Grid, Smart City project relied on the participation of customers across the trial area. There were two major customer trials taking place as part of Smart Grid, Smart City; the network customer trials run by Ausgrid and the retail customer trials offered through EnergyAustralia. Participants had a new smart meter installed and were offered various technology products to test.

Here are answers to some common questions about these trials.

What is a smart grid?

A smart grid is a new, more intelligent way of supplying electricity. It combines innovations in digital communications, sensoring and metering with the electricity network to create a more interactive, two-way grid. Smart sensors installed in small, local substations will help achieve fewer and shorter outages. In the household, new generation smart meters provide historical information about electricity use to help you monitor and control your energy costs. Smart grids also have the potential to greatly improve energy reliability across the grid.

Why doesn’t the clock on my smart meter change for daylight savings?

The national electricity market is synchronised with Australian Eastern Standard Time and our meters record power used in this time format. If you are billed on time-based rates, the intervals are adjusted outside the meter to account for daylight savings and public holidays.

What technologies are being tested?

Some of the customer products being trialed enable households to control their energy usage and costs remotely, including the ability to turn on and off individual appliances through the convenience of their smart phones or internet connected computer. The product options are:

How do the smart meters work?

Your smart meter measures electricity use continuously and records consumption every half hour. This is different from older meters, which only measure total energy consumption.

A smart meter provides secure communication capabilities and can work with different household technologies, such as online portals and in-home displays.

Smart meters are key to communicating information such as how much energy is being consumed and when it is being used. They are also required to support technologies reporting information on particular appliances. This is different to your old meter, which only measures the total consumption between any two points in time.

What happens to the meter after the trial?

The meter will remain installed at your home after the trial and will be read as usual by Ausgrid meter readers.

Can I see energy consumption on my smart meter?

Yes, the display on your smart meter shows the overall consumption recorded by the meter.

Can I still get my regular electrician to complete electrical work once a smart meter is installed?

There is a sticker on your meter requesting that anyone needing to work on the meter contact us first. Electrical work can still be carried out, but your electrician must call the number on the sticker before any metering changes are made.

Who will read my smart meter?

Ausgrid will still visit your home every three months to read the meter. The energy use data is then checked and sent to your retailer for billing.

Are the smart meters accurate?

The meter has been approved as an accurate electricity meter by the Australian Government’s National Measurement Institute. It has been extensively tested by the manufacturer, independent laboratories and in Ausgrid’s own laboratory following these standards:  

  • National Measurement Institute M 6-1 Electricity Meters. Part 1: Metrological and Technical Requirements
  • AS 62052.11-2005 Electricity metering equipment (AC) - General requirements, tests and test conditions - Metering equipment
  • AS 62052.21-2006 Electricity metering equipment (AC) - General requirements, tests and test conditions - Tariff and load control equipment
  • AS 62053.21-2005 Electricity metering equipment (AC) - Particular requirements - Static meters for active energy (classes 1 and 2)
  • AS 62054.21-2006 Electricity metering (ac) - Tariff and load control - Particular requirements for time switches

Are the smart meters safe?

Yes, Ausgrid only installs equipment that is safe for the community and our technicians. The meter strictly complies with all Australian standards for safety.
The next generation smart meters we use enable the home technology trials to meet all Australian standards for safety. Smart meters use very low power radio frequency signals to communicate. These signals have a much lower power than the signals from common household appliances such as wireless routers, baby monitors and mobile phones and signals only occur for a few minutes a day.
Independent analysis was conducted of the Radio Frequency Electromagnetic Energy (RF EME) levels of a smart meter used for the Smart Grid, Smart City trials.
From this report the notable findings include: 

  • On average smart meters will only communicate briefly on average six times a day, unless the customer uses their technology frequently.
  • From 30cm in front of the smart meter, the highest RF EME level measured from the meter was more than 6,200 times below the safety limit set by the national authority (ARPANSA. This decreases as you move further away.
  • According to ARPANSA and the World Health Organisation, RF EME Levels as low as those shown in the report are not known to cause adverse health effects.

 

What if I have concerns about the smart meter?

The new meter offers many benefits, including the chance to trial new ways of keeping track of your home’s power use and controlling your energy costs. If you do have concerns about the meter, please contact us on 1300 922 746.

How do you protect my privacy?

Ausgrid already hold secure data for 1.6 million customers and privacy is at the core of our operations. Ausgrid has undertaken a full privacy impact assessment to make sure the privacy of participants in all aspects of the trial is secured. Stringent privacy practices have been embedded in the project's documentation, databases and systems. Read Ausgrid’s privacy policy.

At EnergyAustralia, privacy is very important to us and the way we collect, use and manage your personal information is governed by our privacy policy. For the Smart Grid, Smart City trial, we will collect your contact details, survey responses, and metering data.
Read EnergyAustralia’s privacy policy.

Both the smart meters and communications network have been built to the highest international standards for security. The meters are highly secure. All data is encrypted and sent over Ausgrid’s private communications network.

Outcomes of the trial will be published by the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism but this will be aggregated data and will not identify individuals or their homes.

How do I know if I am eligible to take part in these trials?

Unfortunately the customer trials are now underway and therefore are no longer open to new participants.

Where is the program based?

The Smart Grid, Smart City program is being conducted in Newcastle, Newington, Sydney CBD, Ku-ring-gai, and Scone. 
Click here for the full list of suburbs in the trial area.
You can also view the trial area map.

I'm participating in the trial - will my bills change?

A key focus of the Smart Grid, Smart City program is helping you better understand your household's electricity use - how much you use and when you use it. By providing you with greater visibility of your energy use, you may find ways to save power in your home and reduce your energy costs. It does not cost you anything to have your old meter replaced with a smart meter and smart meters do not affect your energy consumption.

Network customer products are free products, they will not affect your billing rates. However, your product is designed to help you better understand your electricity consumption and ways to reduce it; this may result in a reduction of energy costs. Find out more about all the network customer products.

EnergyAustralia's retail products offer a number of pricing plans based around actual use during specific times, as well as feedback technologies which can help you understand and manage your electricity consumption. For more information about your rates refer to your Energy Price Fact Sheet or read more about PowerSmart Solutions.

Where can I get technical support for my Smart Grid, Smart City technology?

Please call the Smart Grid, Smart City customer service team on 1300 922 746 between 9am – 5:30pm, Monday to Friday. Alternatively, you can email SGSC.enquiries@ausgrid.com.au

I don’t think I’m getting my SMS alerts?

If you have signed up to take part in a trial which sends out SMS alerts and you feel you are not receiving them, please call 1300 922 746 or email SGSC.enquiries@ausgrid.com.au.

How long does the trial go for?

Some components of the trial will conclude by 30th September 2013. However,  the Customer Feedback Technology and EnergyAustralia trials have been extended to 28th February 2014.

I’m a trial participant; what happens if I move home?

Unfortunately, you wont be able to continue with the trials if you move. Please contact Smart Grid, Smart City on 1300 922 746 if you have questions concerning a move.

 

Can I withdraw from the trial?

Yes, the customer trials are voluntary and you can withdraw at any time by calling 1300 922 746 or emailing SGSC.enquiries@ausgrid.com.au.

If I take part in the trial will I still be able to access eWise?

Yes. If you take part in the Smart Grid, Smart City trial, you will still be able to access eWise.