Read your Electricity Contract Before you Attack your Smart Meter

Things got a little heated over at my original post on Smart Meters in Victoria and NSW. I followed that up with more news on Smart Meter costs and problems.

I'm not making many new friends even though I agree with much of the opposition to smart meters. People are understandably very annoyed with smart meters for many reasons. Many people feel helpless in the face of the smart meter roll-out.

Sorry to say it, but you are a little helpless under your electricity agreement conditions.

[Okay, that's probably why I'm not making new friends. Read on - I actually do have some suggested solutions.]

The route of the Smart Meter 'problem' lies in your Energy Agreement

TRU Energy Australia - Customer Electricity Agreement / Contract

I just had a read of our contract with Energy Australia. Firstly, you don't have to actually sign a physical agreement. By agreeing to buy energy from a particular company you are entering into a contract with them. For example:

1.1 These Agreement Conditions apply:
(a) if you have agreed to purchase both electricity and gas from us, as two separate Energy Agreements between you and us for the supply of electricity and gas respectively; or
(b) if you have agreed to purchase one of electricity or gas from us, as an Energy Agreement between you and us for the supply of that form of energy.

Regarding Smart Meters and meter access, here's the important part:

Meters and Supply Points
4.2 To facilitate the supply of energy to the premises, you agree to:
(a) make available sufficient land at the premises (to our reasonable satisfaction) to situate the meter (including any additional or replacement meters) and supply point (and any associated equipment) safely;
(b) protect and not disconnect, by-pass, interfere with or damage any meter or supply point at your premises and promptly notify us of any problems with them;
(c) give the meter readers, authorised persons and the distributor, information and safe, convenient and unhindered access at all reasonable times to the premises (including any meter, the supply point and any related equipment at the premises) for any reasonable purpose required; and
(d) comply with any directions from us or the distributor about any meter or the supply point.

If you really oppose Smart Meters I think you have two basic options

1. Legally challenge your energy company. This could take the form of challenging your energy contract / agreement, or taking on the smart meters directly. This would be a legal field day, but it does hold some merit. Check out this legal victory against Smart Meters from Maine in the United States.

2. Go 'off grid'. This is not as crazy as it sounds. Plenty of households in regional Australia live off a handful of solar panels and a solid battery bank independently supplying their electricity needs. There is no reason why you can't go off grid just because you live in the city. The technology is robust and the cost is not as high as it used to be.

My bet is that option 2 will be far cheaper and more rewarding for you.

- Ryan McCarthy

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