Strata schemes and electricity issues.
The electrical meter room in a strata building are usually on common property but individual units meters are now supplied and owned by the Electricity provider, for example, AGL, Origin Energy.
Changes to electricity supply meters in strata buildings
The ‘Power of Choice’ is government implemented electricity industry-wide reforms set by the Australian Energy Market Commission.
Since 1st December 2017 these changes have been initiated starting in Victoria and we will start to see this become more common in New South Wales. Part of the reform was to allow suppliers to install meters, where previously they were only installed by Ausgrid.
Energy providers are pushing to install ‘smart meters’ as they save them money with less cost for wages for technicians to attend site.
The notification of faults with the meter has also changed and has added some complexity.
What are Smart Electricity Meters?
Smart meters measure how much electricity is used at your premises and when. They send the usage information to the energy supplier wirelessly, negating the need for onsite meter reads.
- Smart meters can also do other things remotely, like allow the electricity supply to be remotely switched on and off and notify of faults.
- They also provide accurate and detailed information on what is using the electricity in the individual’s property.
Old-style meters will start to be replaced with new meters. The old meters will be phased out over time until smart meters are used uniformly around Australia.
What do Smart Electricity Meters mean for strata schemes?
Enquiries to change meters are starting to be received from energy suppliers who want to install smart meters. In the case where the meter is found to be faulty, is must be replaced and therefore the supplier will replace the old faulty meter with a smart meter.
The complication is that to undertake the upgrade or work to deal with a faulty meter the energy provider is requiring that the individual units supply be isolated first. So they contact you or the strata managing agent advising that work is required and that each units meter needs a separate service fuse.
Currently with most strata plans the ‘service fuses’ cover multiple unit meters, or even all of them. For most strata schemes this is going to be complicated and at additional cost as the electrical switchboard set up does not allow for this.
The request/requirement from energy suppliers is that the individual unit owner engages a Level 2 Electrician to install a Meter Protection Device (MPD) to your meter at your own cost.
STRATA LIVING EXAMPLE
Contact received from Energy Australia
Problem: Our metering contractor attended your property; however, they were unable to complete the faulty meter exchange. Unable to isolate the customer supply – shared fuses on site. Meter Protection Devices required to be installed.
Resolution: Customer to engage a qualified technician to attend and rectify. We strongly recommend that you contact a Registered Electrician or Level 2 Accredited Service Provider (ASP) for technical advice and to resolve any electrical issues on site.
What is a Meter Protection Device (MPD)?
A fuse or other protection and isolation device located on the ‘un-metered’ side of the installation, intended for the isolation and protection of whole-current metering and the associated customer installation
What is the cost of changing electricity meters to the strata?
In a straight forward meter installation or upgrade there is no charge to the individual or strata plan as this is a cost borne by the energy provider. But there are significant costs when there is a need to isolate the meter.
We have found cost of $500 -$600 per installation of a MPD are not uncommon and so we are suggesting to our clients that if there is a need to change one it will be substantially cheaper (and less disruptive, as the power needs to be switched off for the entire complex) to have all works required to all owners individual meter at the same time.
Can strata plans be forced to complete works to allow for Smart Meters to be installed?
Federal Legislation requires that any new or replacement meter must be a Smart Meter.
As electricity providers are now responsible for metering at your property they require that their representatives are provided with safe and unhindered access for metering purposes. They are contacting individuals with request for ‘compulsory upgrades’ of the meter and advising that otherwise they cannot guarantee the accuracy of the current meter.
Electricity providers are permitted to arrange for disconnection of your electricity supply if they are not provided with safe access to your property for metering purposes. They are required to send to fix any access issue before they take any steps to do this. So essentially failure to undertaken the installation of the MPD as requested may result in a disconnection of power to that unit warning notices and give a reasonable opportunity.
Further reading about strata electricity meters
About Strata Life – Strata Management Services
At Strata Life we strive to take the pressure of the day to day running of a strata scheme off of the shoulders of the committee members and owners. Whilst the nature of strata itself does mean that the owners/ committee are responsible for the decisions, the pressure is reduced by having a proactive manager provide guidance with a plain sense approach and quickly actioning issues as they arise.
We appreciate Committee members often have full time jobs and busy lives. Add to this that the strata scheme is often your home where Committee members do not want to have to police other residents.
Our aim is to minimise the work and time where we can, take on the role of reminding owners and residents of the by-laws so that everyone can peacefully enjoy community living.
Our team has extensive experience with properties on the Upper North Shore, Hornsby and the Northern Beaches areas, with excellent local contractors and superior local knowledge.
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Whether you’re an existing client or not, our strata managers are here to help with all matters relating to strata schemes and community living. Our office is open Monday – Friday, 8am – 6pm to answer your call or, for after-hours assistance, please complete our online enquiry form and we’ll get back to you the following business day.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is general information only and not legal advice. The currency, accuracy and completeness of this article (and its contents) should be checked by obtaining independent legal advice before you take any action or otherwise rely upon its contents in any way. Strata Life disclaims any liability for negligence or otherwise in any way connected with this article.