The great smart meter rip-off

Are you out of pocket because retailers are dragging their feet changing their meters?

Read our advice or ask a question below.


I live in Central Victoria and have had a smart meter for at least 10 years. Our power supplier is Powercor and the billing company is Origin. What puzzles me is that there is no remote metering connected, and a person comes around and physically reads the meter every 90 days. While this is not a problem, what is a concern, is that the meter has no remote control, we are on the same fixed rate kwh charges 24/7, as Powercor is not able to determine lower night rate usage so we cant take advantage of off-peak rates, and are paying more for our electricity.
As Victorians, we were told by the then Sate Government, that the installation of a smart meter would save us money.
It is my understanding we had to pay for the installation cost, as well as trailing daily supply charges forever and a day, to no advantage to me whatsoever. Talk about a rip-off.
I believe a lot of Victorians are in the same boat.


A smart meter only saves your money if you have the capacity to keep your heavy usage to mainly the low tariff periods of the day. If your usage is in the high tariff period having a smart meter it may cost you money compared to a flat rate through the day of a dumb meter. I believe the advertising campaigns about the benefits of smart meters is quite misleading because they assume we can all take advantage of low tariffs.

In reality most households have only quite limited capacity to determine when to use high power appliances. Your fridge/freezer have to be on all the time. Once you have organised to run your dishwasher and washing machine off peak what are you going to do about the big ticket items like heating and cooling? You need to run these when you are feeling excess heat or cold not when power is cheap. If a big component of your bill is summer daytime use of aircon don’t get a smart meter if given a choice.


That is true, but the “smart meter” also has to be running in smart mode, ie using its design as intended. Apparently very few of them, including mine, are remotely read or controlled even now. It is a classic boondoggle where the only beneficiary at the end of the day will be the utilities than can roll out even more opaque complex un-comparable billing schemes to confuse competitive shoppers. In theory it also allows the utilities to turn off our power at their whim, such as on a 44C day when lots of A/C is running and the grid/supply systems have been minimised as “good business to maximise profit” and they cannot supply the load.

Vic did not give anyone a choice!


My only regret is that the smart meters arn’t programmed to turn off the power for those who have taken the Green option when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow.

1 Like

12 posts were split to a new topic: RF Radiation and cancer - smart meters, mobile phones and WiFI

I’m not sure how it work for others but the delay in the digital meter has been helped for me. Since I installed my solar, the old meter runs backwards when power goes to the grid. Instead of being paid a fifth of my buying rate, I’m effectively getting paid (not charged) at the retail rate.
To me, that’s the way it should really be. If the system were to work that way, the drive to store your excess generation (batteries) would disappear. It would also remove the need to time shift your usage.
I’m ignoring the basic economic rule of “supply and demand”. :sunny:


Had a new EDMI smart meter installed last week, Broken Hill NSW. Billed by Origin, net metering for PV array and domestic/off peak rates. The technician installed a 3G transmitter which sends data on a continuing basis. I manually read the display, weekly, for my spreadsheet, that extends back to March, 2001, when the PV panels were installed. I have accessed my Origin account and found bar graphs for power use/solar export for the last billing quarter. Will let the new net meter run for a month, then check the data in my account. Interested to see what I find.

They output the same RF power as a mobile phone, RF is radio frequency. Not ionizing radiation as, alpha, beta, gamma and neutron radiation. The later being radiated by uranium, plutonium, cesium, etc. We are surrounded by RF, since Marconi invented radio.


I too an in central Vic and with powercor as the distribution supplier I had to have a smart meter fitted before the compulsory rollout when I went to roof top solar around 10 years ago, and my experience is opposite. I have time of day rates available and different day rates for peak and off peak usage it is always remotely read and I can check and compare my usage daily online or with a powercor app. One meter does peak and off peak general power and off peak hot water. I have saved a lot with the roof top solar and smart meter combo. You just need to buy the right plan that takes advantage of the smart meter from one of the power retailers.


A smart meter measures electricity consumption, there is no smart mode. It reads domestic , off peak and net solar power export to the local grid. My meter sends SMS hourly readings to the power retailer. I access this information in my online account. I ran a spreadsheet from 2011, when my solar system was installed, the online account made it obsolete. I can see daily what my consumption patterns are. The matter of time of day rates( peak, shoulder, off peak) or single rate charging is a personal choice. I find a single rate simpler, see no advantage of 3 daily rates.

I suspect @PhilT was referring to whether the powerco had configured it to talk or whether some dude with a clipboad still had to visit the meter box with an HB pencil and mark down the usage …

I’ve heard it suggested that smart meters measure ‘more power’ because they have no mechanical lag for spikes such as motor start/etc (my words) - unsure if this is true but if it is, surely it would favour in terms of export as well.

I felt this was affected by my household and location. I have a tariff that is more expensive 0600-1800 M-F but typically there is nobody home for most of this time so usage is low. My export tariff or feed in tariff is good during that time, and larger than my nighttime and weekend usage tariff. So when the house is empty during the week, they are paying me more than the power costs me at night and weekends - if I went for single tariff, all tariffs would be the same - I’d lose out a noticeable but relatively small amount - but better in my pocket than theirs. Of course each household needs to work this out based on their generation, usage and tariffs …

We’ve been bombarded by all types since the big bang - only the levels vary. Life is a gamble :wink:


I wonder if anyone has given consideration to pensioners, retirees and mothers with babies who are at home during the day when smart meters have a higher cost per KWH compared to off peak when business power usage is lower. If you are at home during the day and it is a very hot summers day or a cold winters day and you need to use an air conditioner or heater during the day your electricity bill will be much higher as a result. I have read about pensioners and elderly people who sit in the hot or cold because they are afraid to use an appliance due to the electricity cost. Smart meters encourage you to use washing machines, dish washers, air conditioners or appliances including irons during off peak when electricity charges are lower per KWH, this does not help pensioners, retirees and mothers with babies who are at home during the day and have no option but to use appliances.

1 Like

Smart meters are not the same as your electricity supply plan. You can have a smart meter and a flat rate electricity plan, but for P/L reasons the retailers and base suppliers are happy to steer people into time of day plans.

If you are on a time of day plan check with your supplier about a flat rate. If you are on a flat rate, when they advise you are getting a smart meter make sure you stay firm you do not want a time of day plan.


Your observation is correct, there are people with little opportunity to rearrange their usage to a cheaper time. What to do about it is less clear.

The pricing structure is intended to help match fees to costs, the cost of the network is determined by the highest power level that it must deliver and the highest cost of power per unit is at the time of highest demand, at peaks more expensive generators (eg gas) are turned on. Not recovering those costs is providing a subsidy but also altering behaviour and total costs.

There are many situations in life where some people have higher costs than others. We do subsidise some things like medicine, that is justified as an overall public good but how far do you spread this principle? Note that in this case the subsidy is a direct money transfer and its existence does not change the basic costs of the product - unlike electricity.

Of course making it cheaper for some makes it more expensive for the rest. How will those who do have the opportunity to move their usage to a cheaper time, and do so, feel about paying more despite their effort? How will we all feel if the total network costs and wholesale costs go up because there is little or no incentive to go off peak?


Your old mechanical meter should have been replaced by a digital meter, as running an analogue meter backwards is illegal, according to Essential Energy, NSW. A digital meter will meter, domestic and gross solar feed in. A smart (EDMI ) meter will meter all domestic, off peak and net solar feed in power. Have a chat to your energy supplier for more information, your energy retailer may supply a smart meter at no cost, as did Origin Energy for me.! 20190718_125818|301x500

1 Like

Both Origin and AGL provided smart meters at no installation cost to us in SE Qld. And they no longer need to send out a person to read the meters, but do now include a daily metering charge.

In our instance the meters are owned by a third party, not the retailer and not the distributor. There is no such thing as a free meter! Or even a free lunch since fbt was introduced? :rofl:

… not only that, but in my case for the couple of months before the smart meter was installed, it ran backwards so much that the next official reading would have been lower than the last - so if I hadn’t turned the inverter off for periods it would have been fairly obvious what was happening. One can explain lower power usage by saying one was away for a while - negative power usage is rather harder to explain :wink: