AGL Digital / Smart Meters Lock You In!

AGL, our current electricity provider, recently updated us to a digital or “smart” meter. The specific model that they installed is an EDMI Atlas Mk10D.

EDMI Atlas Mk10D

Digital Smart Meter CompatibilityWhen we had the meter installed by AGL we were informed that we could opt out from the new meter. We decided to go ahead with it because it would allow us more detail of our energy usage. We also thought that we could change to any other provider we wanted to down the track, since on AGL’s own web site it states, “Yes, the digital meter is compatible with all energy retailers.”.

The screen shot on the right is from their web-site, where it is very clearly stated that it is compatible.

Well, guess what, it’s not!

With AGL’s recent price rise of 12% over last year’s prices (State’s largest energy retailer, AGL, set to hike electricity bill prices) we decided to shop around for a new retailer. We should be able to after all, since according to AGL the meter is compatible will all retailers.

After applying to Simply Energy for a new deal we received an interesting letter back from them:

Thank you for choosing Simply Energy. Unfortunately we are unable to complete your transfer of Electricity to us at this time.

You are not eligible to accept our Electricity supply offer as we cannot supply your meter type. We have terminated this agreement in accordance with the terms and conditions of the offer. This means that your Electricity will continue to be supplied by your current retailer.

Wait, what?

At first I thought that maybe Simply Energy was just behind the times, but after contacting SA Power Networks I was informed that there are other retailers in South Australia that do not support that meter. This goes directly against what AGL says on their own web-site.

Needless to say, I will be following up with AGL about this, I am frustrated, to say the least …

(Update)

On the AGL Facebook page they have pretty much admitted that it is not compatible with all energy retailers, this is what they originally said to our question:

We have been advised that some smaller retailers do not have the systems capable in order to accept customers with active stream digital meters, however, most retailers, especially the larger ones, should have no issue in accepting customers with these meters. In time, all retailers should have the internal systems capable of accepting customers with these types of meters.

So although in time it will be compatible with all retailers, it is not currently possible to transfer to any retailer in South Australia.

They edited their post slightly after originally posting it to say:

Active Stream digital meters have the ability to be compatible with all retailers. We are aware of a select few smaller retailers who currently do not have the systems in place to be able to process the data of customers with these types of meters, however almost all retailers definitely have the capacity to do this. In the very near future all retailers will have the ability to accept customers with an Active Stream meter.

So still, they have the ability to be compatible, but aren’t currently. Going against what they say on their own web-site…

Checking with the Australia Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) the define illegal claims as:

It is illegal for a business to make statements that are incorrect or likely to create a false impression. This includes advertisements or statements in any media (print, radio, television, social media and online) or on product packaging, and any statement made by a person representing your business.

For example, your business must not make false or misleading claims about the quality, value, price, age or benefits of goods or services, or any associated guarantee or warranty. Using false testimonials or ‘passing off’ (impersonating another business) is also illegal.

When assessing whether conduct is likely to mislead or deceive, consider whether the overall impression created by the conduct is false or inaccurate.

South Australia Electricity Prices on the Rise

South Australia Electricity RetailersPrices of electricity on South Australia are still on the rise…

Recently AGL, Origin Energy, and Energy Australia all greatly increased their prices by an average of about $200 per year. Unfortunately those big three retails account for nearly 80% of the market in South Australia.

South Australia is already paying an average of $400 per year more than customers in Canberra, with the big energy retails marking up costs by about $650 per year, per customer (source)…

photo credit: GOC The Pelhams 056: Pylons via photopin (license)

Australian Electricity Price Increase by 15,000 Percent!

I wish that number was a joke, but unfortunately it is not. The price per kilowatt hour of electricity could jump from the current price of about 30c/kWh, up to $47 per kilowatt hour during peak usage times!

Electricity pylon75% of Australian homes have air conditioners, which will be the households most affected by the increase. Because of the harsh climate that we have here in South Australia that percentage is even higher at 90%. The “critical peak surcharge” could be applied on the hottest days, for up to 4-hours.

According to AEMC’s (Australian Energy Markets Commission’s) consumer advocacy panel, the increases in electricity prices will hurt “customers who are least able to manage their consumption”. The people who will be most hit by the increase are said to be households with stay-at-home parents.

Given that I work from home, and my wife is a stay-at-home mum, we could be up for a very large financial hit when the changes start in 2017. My wife suffers from both Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia, which makes regulating the temperature in our household not just a “luxury”, but very important for her quality of life.

Not only is it important for my wife’s health, but having proper cooling is also extremely important for our kid’s learning. According to this story, “comprehension starts to diminish at 28 degrees”. Since this goes for learning, no doubt it also goes for working as well.

Let’s see how the changes play out, but I for one hope that the 15,000 percent increase doesn’t come into play here …

Source: news.com.au

Image credit: Lydia

Where Are The Electrical Powerpoints?

One of our larger frustrations with the house is the complete lack of powerpoints in the rooms. The three children’s bedrooms only have one electrical point in each room, our bedroom has only two electrical powerpoints, and the main living areas also have a severe lack of powerpoints.

We have set-up a desk for our children on the “Meals” area of the house so that we can supervise them on the computer and with their homework, but there are no powerpoints in that area, and only two in the “Family” area. The “Formal Dining” room, which is my office, has only a single power point. From that single electrical point we are stuck running all of our networking, printer, and my computer from. It is definitely not an ideal set-up.

floorplan1

On top of that, the only thing that you are allowed to legally do in Australia for electrical work as a DIYer is replace a light bulb! Anything else must be done by a very costly electrician. I bet that the electrical unions absolutely loved getting that bit of legislation passed …