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"Off-peak" Some charged at peak PLUS off-peak

This mainly concerns rural properties with two or more meters, including “off-peak”. A typical setup has one meter box on the transformer pole and another, for the off-peak hot water, in or beside the fuse-box on the dwelling. It is possible that the power measured by the second meter has also been measured by the main one. It is simple for the property owner to check this safely. The utility’s account also need to be looked at. A pdf “tool kit” is available which helps users claim what could be thousands in overcharges.

Welcome to the community @RodTuson

While possible is there a record of this happening? There are irregular reports of electricity being ‘stolen’ on rare occasion by wire taps or mis-wired meter boxes in flats, but.

As a city dweller that would be curious on its best day and I can understand why it could lead to suspicions.

One might be inclined to assume (<-always dangerous) that the meter on the pole reads all power, and the off-peak amount would be subtracted from peak use by the billing system. Not a difficult process if it works as ‘assumed’.

Would that be a DIY spreadsheet w/instructions for customers to enter the details from the two meters and construct bills from that data, to compare against their utility issued invoice? Where does one find it? It is acceptable to provide relevant links.


There is proof of this happening. If there is suspicion, there’s an easy way the consumer can check safely and reliably. Yes, the meter on the pole DOES read ALL but is listed in the bill as PEAK. Then this power passes to the off-peak meter. If it was billed as “ALL, OFF-PEAK, PEAK(=ALL-OFF)” then all is well. Peak might be 30c, Off 15c, so they’re actually PAYING 45c for their Off-Peak! I haven’t put the PDF anywhere easily accessible yet, but Choice has a copy and I’ve distributed it VERY widely - pollies, EWON, media etc.

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How can an individual get a copy? If it is only a page or two you could save it as a jpg and upload it to your topic?

Highly unlikely unless someone deliberately (or highly incompetent) decided to wire the meters incorrectly.

Most meters should be installed with an isolation switch on the house side of the meter. If you turn the one off at the pole meter when the off peak water meter is on and rotating/flashing, if the off peak meter stops rotating/flashing after the isolating switch is off, then they are wired in series. If the off peak meter still rotates/flashes when the isolation switch is off, then they are installed correctly in parallel and both meters will be recording power use separately (which is the likely case).

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It’s so easy to fix in the accounts. Your test is a nice easy one! There’s another a bit safer. Here’s what a retired energy engineer said: Some electricity supply authorities used to use subtractive metering in some country areas to save the costs of running wires back to a central metering point. Most properties had a metering point near the transformer and one set of mains to the house which had wood fired hot water. Later on electric off-peak hot water was needed so a dedicated off-peak meter was fitted by the house board and its usage subtracted from the main meter.This all finished when the Government combined the small supply authorities into a few big conglomerates then split the supply and retail sectors. The country people were forgotten and the subtractive metering did not “compute”. This lead to a scenario of properties having huge problems eg main meter at transformer measures total usage. Separate off peak meter at main homestead, separate meter at shearing shed, at shearers quarters, on workers cottages etc. Some properties could have 5 to 6 down-stream meters for business management. The “official” view was “It is the customers’ problem, get an authorised service provider to get the metering problem fixed and wiring done at the customers’ cost”.

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This doesn’t make sense from an physical location point of view. It is easy to move (not much cost) the pole meter to where the off-peak meter is so that they sit side by side at the house. There is no need to run two wires from the pole as the meters will use the existing wiring. It doesn’t change the ease of reading having two separate meters at two separate locations…(unless the house is many kilometres from the pole and difficult to access …then one might have to call through the off peak house meter to the retail provider.

Have you checked your bill as this will have the reading for both meters and how they are handled by the meter reading company? You can also read the meters to check that the information on the bills are correct after the isolation test outlined above is undertaken.

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I think even many years ago the cost would have been substantial and must be done by the utility or their contractor on their instructions. Also a problem if as in the example, there are two or more controlled load meters in different buildings. After establishing that the meters are series, the next step is carefully examining bills. Generally “actual” readings are OK unless there’s a typo. It’s the maths in accounts that’s wrong. Then the distributor should establish which meters are series’ed and which are OK, i.e. which main meter gives “peak” and which “total” (from which the peak(s) shoud be subtracted.).