Help & advice
Understanding your bill
Knowing what is on your bill will help you understand your energy usage.
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Gas retailers, such as ActewAGL Retail, sell the gas you use at your home or business, and manage your gas account. ActewAGL Distribution delivers the gas, and is responsible for reading gas meters and providing the meter information to your retailer so that they can generate your quarterly gas bill.
If you have concerns about your gas bill please call our Assist team on 13 14 93.
Why do I sometimes receive an estimated gas bill?
Gas retailers are required by law to provide you with a gas bill every three months, but sometimes the most up-to-date information from your gas meter isn’t available in the ‘billing system’.
Why does this happen?
End-to-end, the billing system is a complex pipeline of information systems, with multiple processes and stakeholders, including meter readers, the network distributor, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and retailers.
If information about your gas usage isn’t available in the billing system before your next bill is automatically generated by your retailer, a back-up system is activated providing an estimate of your gas consumption.
There are valid reasons for this occurring. Examples include when the meter reader can’t gain access to a meter due to blockages, hazards or bad weather. In other cases there may be delays in meter information being uploaded into the system or failures during the various validation processes across the billing system.
How many customers receive estimated bills?
Between 3% and 5% of customers will receive an estimated bill in any one quarter. This can happen more than once per year as regulation only requires that one in four bills are based on an ‘actual’ meter read.
Billing based on estimates is a regulated process and it’s all the industry has until technology around advanced meters develops in the gas industry, similar to smart meters which are increasingly available in the electricity sector.
Why are some estimated bills higher than ‘normal’?
Estimated bills are calculated using a methodology approved by the Australian Energy Regulator. They are generally based on your average daily use (consumption) for the same periodthe previous year.
However, in some cases there may not be any billing history or customers may have varied their gas usage; for example, when they move house or switch between gas and electricity. This can lead to higher or lower estimated consumption.
For a new connection the estimated bill is based on how the customer has indicated they will be using gas, such as heating, cooking and hot water.
What caused the recent increase in estimated bills being sent?
In May 2016, ActewAGL Distribution along with other distribution companies in NSW transitioned to a new system to manage gas meter data. This was in response to changes requested by AEMO.
The changes include a tighter timeframe for recording and processing gas meter information in the billing system – from five days down to two days. If the meter read and various validations are not processed within this reduced timeframe, the system automatically generates an estimated read for billing purposes.
This has caused issues for all gas distributers and retailers in the ACT and NSW.
Have you fixed this problem?
Significant planning and work has been done to realign our processes, technology and contracts around meter readings. We’ve also re-checked our systems and processes, end-to-end, through the billing pipeline.
Since December last year, we’ve seen a gradual return to the ‘normal’ range of estimated bills being issued of between 3% and 5%.
Because the billing cycle is over a rolling three-month period, we saw the tail end of the issues triggered by last year’s changes showing up on bills between December and April 2017.
What if my estimate was too high and I have paid too much?
If you have paid a bill based on estimated consumption, your account will be adjusted as soon as a meter reading showing actual consumption is available to your gas retailer.
I’m concerned about my gas bills, what should I do?
We apologise to customers for the frustration and stress that this issue has caused. We encourage customers to call our Assist team on 13 14 93 and we will work through their individual circumstances.
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