Response to a question from Stuff, Friday 12 October.

The Authority is not directly involved in the finding of a faulty meter at the home in Governors Bay. We cannot comment on that specific case, but we can explain the process around an unusually high power bill.

The accuracy of meters is important. The management of meters is governed under the electricity industry rules, known as the Code.

In a case where there are questions over an unusually high bill there are a number of Code obligations that apply to the retailer and the meter equipment provider, in addition to contractual requirements.

The process

If a customer has a concern with an unusually high bill they should contact their retailer first, as this is who they have a contractual relationship with.

Retailers go through a standard process to identify the cause.

They start by looking into meter readings and several aspects of appliance use, including looking for any abnormal pattern of use, a faulty appliance or an unexpected one left on. Historically this has led to resolution of nearly all high bill inquiries.

If not, the retailer might suspect there is a metering issue – which could be a configuration error, registry information error or faulty meter.

The customer can insist on a physical meter test at any time in the process, but this is costly and usually charged to the customer if the meter passes okay – so this is usually discouraged until the end of the process.

If the process progresses to the stage where the retailer asks for a meter test and advises the meter equipment provider the meter could be faulty, there is a requirement for a formal investigation and a report to the retailer.

If a customer has any concern, they can call on a free service provided for the electricity industry by Utilities Disputes.

From the Electricity Authority Chief Executive James Stevenson-Wallace.