Department of Energy and Water Supply

Digital meters

Digital meters (also known as advanced meters or smart meters) are electricity meters which can record electricity consumption in 30-minute intervals. They also feature remote communications for reading, and other services.

Digital meters can help you:

  • better understand your electricity consumption patterns
  • take advantage of a wider range of new electricity products and services
  • better manage your usage.

They also enable:

  • accurate and up-to-date information on usage patterns through online platforms and mobile apps
  • smaller, more frequent bills based on actual consumption
  • faster switching between retailers
  • faster service to customers: like billing enquiries and moving in and out of premises.

Electricity retailers are now offering digital meters to Queensland customers on a voluntary basis. Contact your retailer for more information.

New meters

New national metering rules are expected to come into effect on 1 December 2017, making digital meters the standard meter for all customers. This means that whenever a new meter is installed, a digital meter will be the default option. However, in limited circumstances, customers in existing premises may opt-out of having a digital meter.

After the commencement of the new rules, small customers will not need to do anything. Your electricity distributor (e.g. Energex, Ergon Energy) will continue to provide metering services at your premises until you decide to install a digital meter, or the meter needs replacement (e.g. due to fault or age).

Paying for a digital meter and tariff changes

Digital meters are being offered by electricity retailers as part of a market-led approach. As a result, we anticipate that in most cases, customers will not face any up-front costs for the installation of a digital meter as these will be borne by electricity retailers. However, there may be circumstances where you may be required to contribute to the cost. Your retailer will be able to inform you if any contribution is necessary.

The rollout of digital meters will be supported by a range of new electricity products and services including new tariffs. These products and services will be available on a voluntary basis.

The detailed information on your electricity usage patterns from your digital meter will enable you to see whether switching to an alternative tariff, and/or changing your usage patterns will save you money on your electricity bills.

Your electricity retailer will be able to explain the features of their products and services on offer. Be sure to check the terms of your electricity contract and ask for help if you don’t understand.

Energy Savvy Families program: digital meters for low income regional residents

The Energy Savvy Families program provides digital meters to eligible low-income families in regional Queensland to help them gain a greater understanding of when and how they use their electricity. This is a combined initiative of Ergon Energy Retail, Queensland Council of Social Service, CitySmart and the Queensland Government.

The digital meters allow low-income households to pay their electricity bills in smaller, more manageable monthly amounts rather than receiving quarterly bills. This, combined with local community support and educational resources, helps families understand when and how they are using electricity and empowers them to manage their electricity bills.

The first phase of the program has seen the free installation of digital meters in 5,500 homes in 10 regional towns across Queensland. This phase was delivered by securing $5.5 million in funding from State Infrastructure Fund’s $180 million Significant Regional Infrastructure Projects Program (SRIPP).

A further $4 million has been invested under the Affordable Energy Plan to extend the program to a further 4,000 low income households. The new program will start in early 2018.

Installing a digital meter

Digital meters may only be installed by qualified electricians acting on behalf of your electricity retailer, and in accordance with relevant electrical safety standards.

If a new digital meter is installed by your electricity retailer, the retailer is responsible for all aspects of the meter, including the safe installation of the meter, reading of electricity consumption, and its operation and maintenance. If you experience any problems with your meter, you should contact your retailer.

Old meters are removed by the installer and it is their responsibility to return old meters to the electricity distributor (Energex or Ergon Energy). If this does not occur, contact your retailer.

The wiring inside the house, the switchboard and the meter enclosure/box remains the responsibility of the homeowner. If you experience issues with these you should contact your electrician.

Changing retailers or moving house

Currently not all retailers offer digital meter services in Queensland. If you have a digital meter and you intend to change your retailer, you will need to check if the services you currently have access to will be available with the new retailer.

If you move house, the digital meter will remain at the premises for the next resident, meaning you can’t take it with you. If your new home doesn't have a digital meter, you may request one from your retailer. If they cannot meet your request, you should contact other retailers to see if they can offer you a new meter.

Health impacts

All digital meters installed in Queensland comply with electromagnetic exposure limits developed by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA). There is no scientific evidence that the low level of RF EMR (radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation) emitted from digital meters causes any health effects.

The RF EMR emissions from digital meters are regulated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). The ACMA’s regulatory arrangements require wireless devices, including digital meters, to comply with the exposure limits in the ARPANSA RF Standard.

Customer rights and protections

Having a digital meter does not affect your consumer rights or existing customer protections. You will continue to have access to Queensland Government energy concessions and rebates, retailer hardship programs, payment plans, and other legislated customer protection measures.

Find out more

Read about the Regional Business Support Package

Last updated:
30 October 2017
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