Electricity, gas and water meters
FACT SHEET 11— April 2008
INFORMATION FOR VICTORIAN CUSTOMERS
How will this fact sheet help you? Know about meter identifiers
Meters seem to have been the same for Understand meter types
years and years — but the technology
Learn about interval meters
is changing. This Energy and Water
Ombudsman (Victoria) (EWOV) fact Be aware of bill estimation
sheet tells you all about meters and
explains what’s changing. How you can contact EWOV
Properties generally have three meters, one each for electricity,
natural gas (if your property has natural gas) and water.
Unique meter identifiers What are the main types
Gas and electricity meters have both numbers of electricity meters?
and unique identifiers. Water meters have
unique serial numbers.
are the old style—with a
The electricity meter identifier is called the spinning disk and a row
National Metering Identifier, or NMI. Records of figures that keeps
of all NMIs are held in a database—the Market adding up your usage
Settlement and Transfer Solution (MSATS). —like a car’s odometer.
If you change your electricity retailer, the change The meter reading data
is made against the record of your NMI in MSATS. can be compared to what
the meter is showing.
There is a similar arrangement for gas meters. If you have peak and
They have a Metering Installation Registration off-peak electricity with
Number or MIRN. this old style of meter,
you’ll usually have two
These unique identifiers, or meter numbers, meters and a time-switch.
should be on your bill.
Do mistakes happen with NMIs and MIRNs?
Yes, they do, particularly in transfers from one record usage in half
energy retailer to another. The codes are long and hour blocks. By around
complicated and sometimes mistakes are made. 2012, every electricity
customer in Victoria
should have an interval
meter. Bills based on
Who reads meters? interval meters have a
‘usage figure’—not a
Water meters are read by the water companies, ‘start reading’ and an
which also bill their customers. ‘end reading’ that you
can compare with the
Electricity and gas meters are read by electricity meter’s total—so it may
and gas distributors—these are the companies that be harder to check bills.
own the electricity poles and wires, the gas pipes
and the meters themselves. The distributors send
the meter data to the electricity and gas retailers
—so the retailers can bill their customers.
FACT SHEET 11 — April 2008
Electricity interval meters Why are some bills
Interval meters are seen as a tool to effectively estimated?
manage electricity usage. They record usage in
Electricity, gas and water companies are
half hour blocks, so it’s possible to offer tariffs
allowed to estimate your bill if the meter
more closely related to wholesale electricity
reader can’t get to the meter.
costs—potentially reducing usage and
greenhouse gas emissions. Advanced interval Electricity and gas companies have to use their
meters may also be able to connect or ‘best endeavours’ to read your meter at least
disconnect your power remotely— without once every 12 months. Water companies have
someone coming to your property. to use ‘reasonable endeavours’.
In-home displays will be available—either If your bill is based on an estimate—rather
through retailers or electrical stores. These give than an actual meter read—the bill must show
real time information about how much electricity this. If the estimate is too low, you’ll get a
you’re using and what it’s costing you. When ‘catch-up’ bill when your meter is later read.
your interval meter is installed, make sure you
get instructions on how to read it. Distributors Estimated electricity bills are more common
are required to leave that information. than gas or water bills—probably because
electricity meters can be harder to reach.
How are interval meters read? Some are inside older houses. Most are on the
front of the building itself, whereas water and
Interval meters can be read manually and the
gas meters are generally at the front of the
new smart meters will eventually be read
property. Locked gates, high fences or dogs
remotely. Smart meters installed from 2009-
can all block meter access, leading to
2013 may be read remotely and will
communicate directly with distributors. This
should overcome problems with meter access. As a customer, you have to provide access for
your meter to be read. If access is continually
For more details about interval meters, see the
blocked, your electricity or gas may end up
Victorian Department of Primary Industries’
being disconnected—though retailers generally
website at www.dpi.vic.gov.au/energy.
prefer to provide you with an estimated bill.
If electricity or gas meter access is a problem,
consider getting a suitable Victorian Power
Can meters measure wrongly? Industry (VPI) lock. Some hardware stores,
electrical wholesalers and locksmiths stock
There are Australian Standards for meter accuracy.
them. The distributors have keys for these
Meters can be tested against these standards.
locks. For more details and pictures of VPI
Generally, if the meter is found to be running within
locks, see section 4.7 of
the Standards, the customer has to pay for the me-
ter test. If the meter is found not to be meeting the
Standards, the company pays for the test and Water companies don’t use VPI locks. If access
amends your bills. Most testing finds that meters to your water meter is a problem, you can ask
are operating within Australian Standards. If there’s your water company if they will accept your
a problem, it’s more likely the meter is running too own keys.
slowly, rather than too fast.