Advanced power meter infrastructure the answer to inaccurate estimates in Northampton shire, says MP

Phoebe PinGeraldton Guardian
Cyclone-damaged Kalbarri.
Camera IconCyclone-damaged Kalbarri. Credit: Matt Anderson/7NEWS/supplied, Matt Anderson/7NEWS

A project to upgrade power meters across regional WA will be accelerated, a move which comes after Kalbarri and Northampton residents last week raised concerns about billing during the cyclone recovery period.

Residents and businesses owners told the Geraldton Guardian they had been charged usage fees for the days and weeks they had no power because of cyclone-related outages.

Some said despite the outages, their power bill estimates were more expensive or about the same as the same time last year.

A Synergy spokesperson said the company was in the process of providing financial relief to the 300-plus Northampton and Kalbarri customers who had applied for support, with measures to include a $363 credit offset for the billing period around April 11.

On Tuesday, Member for Moore Shane Love asked Minister for Energy Bill Johnston to confirm if all residents affected by the cyclone, and not just the ones who had registered for assistance through Synergy, would receive the credit.

Mr Johnston said Western Power was responsible for providing meter estimates to Synergy and it was incorrect to assume all estimated bills were excessive.

“An automated system generates the bills. If a customer believes that there is a problem with any bill, Synergy appreciates them reaching out because it can usually help them,” he said.

Mr Johnston said problems associated with automated estimates affected the whole State, not just residents in the cyclone impact zone. He said the solution to this problem was improving meter-reading technology.

“Because Synergy itself does not read the bills, it does not know whether the amount being sent to it is either an estimate or an actual reading,” he said.

“This is one of the reasons that we are moving to accelerate the rollout of advanced meters with communications capability.

“The government has already allocated the resources for 180,000 advanced meters to be installed across the South West interconnected system.”

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