Western Australia Minister for Energy Peter Collier
Public To Comment On Plan For Pre-Payment Meters
Victor P Taffa
Energy Minister Peter Collier has welcomed an opportunity for the public to comment on a plan to extend the use of pre-payment meters (PPMs) in the Kimberley region.
The Office of Energy (OOE) has released a consultation document seeking public comment on the proposal.
This follows recent changes to the ‘Code of Conduct for the Supply of Electricity to Small Use Customers’ by the Economic Regulation Authority, allowing the meters to be used only in areas declared by the Minister.
Mr. Collier said the meters were already used in many remote and regional Aboriginal communities, mostly in the Kimberley, as a way of enabling customers to have greater control over their household budgets.
The Minister said the positive response from communities to their introduction prompted the proposal to extend their use to other areas of the Kimberley.
“PPMs have been used in remote and regional Aboriginal communities since 2005.”
“Customers in these communities are very supportive of the technology as it enables them to better manage their power costs.”
“When an area has been declared, the meters become an important option that customers may choose in the same way they can choose Synergy’s NaturalPower or SmartPower products.” Mr. Collier said.
“However, this does not mean that all customers will be forced to have a meter, rather it allows the retailer to offer this service in the area.”
“There are also provisions in the Code of Conduct that aim to ensure that anyone with a PPM has an appropriate level of customer protection.”
Through the consultation, the OOE hopes to gain a better understanding of the link between disconnection rates (number and duration) and financial hardship, to test the effectiveness of the new code requirements and changes to hardship systems aimed at PPM users.
To do this, the OOE plans to monitor a number of the PPM installations, which will also provide information on levels of electricity use.
Any monitoring will be undertaken in consultation with the retailer and customer when new PPMs are installed.