Will consumers flock to access their meter data?

We think the recent Code change announced by the Electricity Authority is a big deal. From 1 Feb next year consumers (homes, businesses, or in fact anyone who buys electricity) will be able to ask their retailer for the last two years worth of electricity consumption data that was used to calculate your bill or in fact provide any service. It doesn’t matter if you are no longer with that retailer, if they provided a service to you in the last 2 years then they must provide the data.

If half-hourly data is available, that must be provided. This includes export data from solar PV or any other distributed generation you may have. This data will be provided in a standard format and will be able to be used by you to graph and look at the peaks and troughs of seasons allowing you to budget better as well as potentially change your behavior to lower your electricity spending. For instance, if you have an Advanced (Smart) Meter and have your consumption information in half-hourly blocks you can see what time of the day you use the most power so then you can see if it’s worth ‘shifting load’ to cheaper off-peak times. Surprisingly we do have a discretionary load to move. For example, washing machines and dishwashers should be delayed until off-peak (most have delay start capability). But how about, in winter, running your heat pump or heated towel rail before you get up to take advantage of the cheap night rate, and then turn them off (or down) when the expensive rate kicks in. Of course, this assumes that you are on some sort of day/night tariff rate with your retailer or (even better) a time-of-use (TOU) rate that may have multiple ‘cheaper’ periods during the day.

Can’t be bothered? Well, you’re in luck as the availability of your electricity consumption data could be used (with your express permission) by 3rd parties such as energy management companies, price comparison websites, or even suppliers of solar panels to show you how you could save money by showing you the exact effect (in dollars and cents) their service or product will have on your power bill.

We don’t know what we don’t know, but the regulation change allowing you to access your consumption data might mean we do know something about our electricity use and cost. Well done Electricity Authority!

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