A POWER giant has to pay $28.75 million compensation to hundreds of thousands of customers with smart meters that are not functioning properly due to an “unstable” IT system.
The 230,000 AusNet Services customers will each be paid $125 with the problem not likely to be fully resolved until the end of the year.
The distribution company, which covers Melbourne’s eastern suburbs and northeast and eastern Victoria, will this month contact those affected.
Customers should be paid the compensation rebates within the next three months.
Other distributors United Energy, CitiPower and Powercor will also pay the compensation for faulty meters but only about 2500 customers across those companies have been effected.
An unstable IT system has caused mass delays in activating AusNet smart meters to remotely transmit electricity use data. Those meters are instead still manually read.
Billing accuracy is unaffected, but customers are missing out on services such as remote reconnection when moving house. Some are also blocked from signing on to retailers’ flexible tariffs that charge consumers for electricity according to time of use.
AusNet Services has fitted more than 700,000 smart meters. Of those, 470,000 are communicating remotely but the rest are not.
The problem is not expected to be fully resolved until the end of next year.
Spokesman Jonathon Geddes said the business was “working hard to complete the program as quickly as possible”.
“Due to instability issues with our metering systems’ performance … AusNet Services reduced meter conversions for remote communication while working to ensure stability,” Mr Geddes said.
Consumers were entitled to compensation if their smart meters were not remotely read by March 31.
“The Victorian Government has required we pay eligible customers a one-off $125 rebate. These customers will continue to have their meters manually read and won’t have access to the benefits of a remote communicating meter, such as remote reconnection when moving house.”
The company identified smart meter IT problems, such as overnight electricity consumption data delivery, last year.
It is spending $175 million on a fix-it program.