Consumer energy resources complaints and case studies

Table 10 – Complaints involving behind the meter products by service provider, January to March 2023

Service provider

Complaints opened involving behind the meter products

Electricity > network > authorised 


Electricity > not allocated 


Electricity > network > exempt 

Electricity > retail > authorised 


Electricity > retail > exempt* 



* Consumer Energy Resources within embedded networks or exempt sellers offering solar powered purchase arrangements (SPPA)

Click here to view the Top 10 core issues for closed complaints involving behind the meter technologies, January to March 2023

The term Consumer Energy Resources (CER) refers to energy producing technologies used in homes including rooftop solar systems, battery storage systems and electric vehicles. We received at least 506 complaints from customers that own or use CER technologies this quarter, representing approximately 11.6% of all electricity complaints.

There are significant developments in the energy market where a primary driver is to enable consumer uptake of CER, including:

  • December 2022, the Australian Energy Regulator finished consultation on an Options Paper for its review of consumer protections for future energy services
  • February 2023, the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) finished consultation on a Draft Report with recommendations to accelerate the rollout of smart meters in the National Energy Market
  • February 2023, the AEMC finished consultation on a Consultation Paper on unlocking CER benefits through flexible trading.

A key issue EWON raised in our submissions to these consultations is that fostering consumer trust is crucial to the success of any industry changes to enable CER uptake. For example, complaints to EWON indicate that consumer expectations of smart meters are not always met and that this impacts consumer trust. These consumer trust issues must be addressed by any approach to an accelerated smart meter rollout rather than exacerbated. The case studies below centre on customers who:

  • expected to receive accurate, actual bills due to having a smart meter installed, but received estimated and/or adjusted bills 
  • expected to be able to use a retailer’s phone app to get the most benefit out of their CER but found that the app was not working in line with their expectations.

 Small business billed on substituted data following solar installation

A customer had solar panels installed for his small business in late 2022 and arranged for his retailer to install a smart meter. Prior to installing solar, his bills were about $3,000 per quarter and he thought the bills would reduce to $2,500. However, his first bill following the installation was $8,000 and subsequent bills kept increasing. The retailer’s phone app showed usage spikes overnight, which was strange as the business was closed overnight.

He disputed the bills with the retailer and it arranged for a technician to check the meter. Immediately after the technician attended, he could see a reduction in usage on the phone app and thought the technician must have fixed or reconfigured something in the meter. He followed up with the retailer to find out if the previous bills would be adjusted but it advised that the bills were correct and payable.

We referred the matter to the retailer for resolution at a higher level but the customer returned to EWON as the complaint remained unresolved. The retailer had told him that the technician tested the meter and found it to be recording accurately but had not fixed or changed anything. The retailer also told him that his bills and the information available via the phone app were based on actual data.

EWON’s review found that the bills and phone app data for the disputed periods were based on substituted data, not actual data. This explained why the phone app had shown usage spikes at strange times. The retailer confirmed the substitution was due to a technical issue with the meter data provider. The issue had been resolved at a similar time to when the technician attended to test the meter, which is why the customer thought something must have changed with the meter itself. Usage reduced significantly once the customer was being billed on actual data instead of estimations.

 The retailer adjusted the bills in line with actual usage and solar generation, which reduced the total by over $15,000 and applied a goodwill credit of $250. The customer had made reasonable payments throughout the investigation, so the balance owing was $1,000. The customer was satisfied with the outcome but expressed that the retailer had advised him for many months that the bills were accurate and based on actual data, so his trust in the retailer had been impacted.

 Retailer’s phone app misses information

A customer found that some information on his energy retailer’s phone app was no longer available, including predicted bill costs. He used this information to monitor his consumption and solar generation so he could adjust his household behaviour to minimise costs.

The retailer told him the problem would be fixed by the end of 2022, but in early 2023, he still could not see the data so contacted EWON. We referred the matter to the retailer for resolution at a higher level. The customer accepted knowing that he could return to us if he was unhappy with the outcome. The customer returned to EWON and we explained that energy phone apps do not have rules and regulations applicable in the same way as bills, but said we would discuss the poor customer service experience with the retailer.

 The retailer advised EWON that the app was showing usage and generation in kWh per hour but was currently not able to show this as a dollar amount per day. The retailer’s technical team was working on the issue but there was no timeframe for when it would be resolved. The retailer indicated it would keep the customer updated. The retailer acknowledged the inconvenience to the customer and offered a goodwill credit of $150. The customer accepted the credit but said he was still frustrated that the app was not working as expected and that his trust in the retailer had been impacted.