The roll out of advanced meters across regional WA is two thirds complete with more than 7500 advanced meters installed in Port Hedland and some smaller Pilbara towns since July.
The Pilbara roll out has been very successful, with more than 95 per cent of our customers surveyed reporting the free meter exchange was very professional.
The project is funded by the State Government as part of its commitment to regional Western Australia and will result in new meters being installed across Horizon Power’s vast service area of 2.3 million square kilometres. There is no charge to Horizon Power customers for the new meters or their installation, thanks to the Government’s funding.
The new meters automatically read electricity consumption which will result in more accurate and timely billing for customers. Estimated bills will become a thing of the past for most customers, with the exception of some customers in very remote locations.
Despite this success, Horizon Power has recently become aware of reports via social media that some Port Hedland customers have concerns about higher bills.
“Horizon Power has only received a handful of formal complaints from customers but there is some discussion on local social media pages,” Noeleen McCann, the East Pilbara Retail Manager said.
“We urge any customer with a concern about their bill to call us. Of those few complaints that have been made, we have investigated and found no issues being caused by the new meter and most of the complaints have been resolved.”
There are a couple of reasons that a bill may be higher, including higher electricity usage because of the summer heat - Horizon Power data shows that electricity use more than doubles in the Pilbara and Kimberley in the warmer months, especially when compared to energy consumption in the South West.
In Port Hedland in particular, many of our customers received bills in the past that were estimated due to locked gates and those bills did not accurately reflect prior usage. Also, in a few cases, some of the old meters that have been replaced with the new advanced meter were running very slowly and not accurately recording consumption, which means customers were not paying for all of their electricity usage previously.
Bureau of Meteorology reports show that while December and January had mean maximum temperatures of about 37 degrees Celsius compared with those months the previous year, November 2015 was hotter than the previous November with recorded temperatures of more than 40 degrees for ten days.
Air conditioning use accounts for at least 40 per cent of customer’s bills on average.
“There are so many benefits of these new meters, faster fault restoration times, more timely and accurate billing as the automated meters means estimated bills will largely be a thing of the past and reduced business costs,” Ms McCann said.
“We want to ensure that our customers are seeing the full benefits and to contact us if they have any issues or concerns so that we can address them. We encourage customers to call our customer contact centre on 1800 267 926 or visit their local Horizon Power office. Once we receive an enquiry we can assist in investigating the reason behind a high account. “
- More than 27,000 meters of the total 47000 new meters have not been installed under the metering project which began in July 2015 and ends later this year. Meters are being installed in the Mid West/Gascoyne and Esperance regions now and will move to Karratha in April.
- Meters can operate in credit or prepayment meter mode allowing customers in areas approved for prepayment meters (Aboriginal communities) to move from one form of payment to the other.
- It is estimated by Bloomberg New Energy Finance that at the end of 2014, more than 540 million advanced meters had been installed at customers’ premises to meter electricity or gas across the world. Horizon Power customers are the first to benefit from this technology in Western Australia.
- Customers who rent properties must have access to the new meter in the event of a disconnection to ensure they can reconnect once approved.
Other benefits of the meters include:
- The electricity connection or disconnection process will be improved. Horizon Power will be able to reconnect customers or disconnect customers from electricity supply more quickly when the new meter is installed.
- Faults will be identified faster because Horizon Power will be able to see whether the fault is inside the house or on the network. If the fault is related to the network, Horizon Power will send crews as soon as possible to rectify the issue.
For more information please contact Noeleen McCann on 9173 8283 or the media line on 1800 799 745.