The AER’s Compliance Priorities 2020-2021 – The AER publishes what penalties retailers have paid

The AER’s Compliance Priorities 2020-2021 – The AER publishes what penalties retailers have paid

AU Energy Compliance
In the mid-year compliance and enforcement update, the AER demonstrated that there has and will be a tighter focus on the compliance of retailers and distributors. Between July and December of 2020, a total of $4.38 million was paid in penalties, of which $3.8 million was paid as a result of court decisions and $580,000 as a consequence of direct infringement notices. Prioritites The AER has clearly stated their enforcement priorities for 2020-2021. These are: Financial difficulties and hardshipLife support equipmentSupporting transition to metering contestabilityEnsuring provision of accurate and timely information to the AER and AEMO Wrongful disconnection for customers facing financial difficulties or hardship The AER reinforced their position that customers in financial difficulty must not be disconnected and must be offered access to affordable payment plans and hardship…
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Penalty for Queensland generator over inability to supply frequency control services

Penalty for Queensland generator over inability to supply frequency control services

AU Energy Compliance
Frequency control ancillary services (FCAS) is used by AEMO to maintain the frequency of the system within tolerances and around 50 cycles per second. FCAS is a mechanism for ensuring balance within the market which can be variable and volatile. FCAS providers are especially important as the uptake of renewable energy within the NEM continues. On 22 February 2021, the AER announced that CS Energy has paid $200,000 in penalties for allegedly failing to ensure that it could provide FCAS that it had already offered to the market. CS Energy has also repaid $1.13 million to AEMO, which it had received as payment to provide the services. In a comment on the incident, AER Chair Clare Savage said: “Inaccurate information about FCAS offers undermines AEMO’s ability to manage frequency deviations…
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Substantial increases in penalties for non-compliance in the energy sector

Substantial increases in penalties for non-compliance in the energy sector

AU Energy Compliance
Summary: As a result of recent reforms discussed below, non-compliant energy businesses in NECF now face penalties of up to 10 percent of their annual turnover or $10,000,000. Consequently, all energy businesses should seriously re-examine their compliance programs and regulatory controls. On 20 March 2020 Energy Ministers in what was then the COAG Energy Council agreed to implement changes to the National Energy Laws (national Electricity Law, National Gas Law, and National Energy Retail Laws) to provide for substantial increases to the civil penalties for non-compliance by energy businesses. The proposed changes were implemented by the Statutes Amendment (National Energy Laws) (Penalties and Enforcement) Act 2020 (Act), which was given Royal Assent on 22 October 2020 and the National Energy Regulations, came into force by Proclamation on 29 Jan 2021. The new penalty…
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The proposal to ban embedded networks in Victoria

The proposal to ban embedded networks in Victoria

Uncategorized
In October 2018, the Victorian Government announced an election commitment to ban embedded networks in new residential developments in Victoria. Since that time little has been publicly said about the proposed ban and, presumably, industry has lobbied the relevant ministers to highlight benefits of embedded networks and the impact of a ban on consumers and the industry. The election commitment was not forgotten however and the Victorian Government appointed an Expert Panel whose work consists of reviewing the options available as a policy response and advising the Government accordingly. The Victorian Government has also since opened up a consultation on the election promise - which they now say included appropriate 'exemptions for buildings that use renewable energy microgrids to deliver low-cost renewable energy to apartment buildings.' The consultation includes an…
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Converting Existing Buildings into Embedded Networks

Converting Existing Buildings into Embedded Networks

AU Energy Compliance
Today we are looking at the 'retrofit process' for embedded networks. We focus on the eastern states, other than Victoria - which has its own regulatory framework. Under the National Electricity Rules (NER), any party that engages in an electricity transmission or distribution activity must either be registered with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) as a network service provider (NSP) or operate under an exemption. If that same entity sells electricity then it will also require either a retail exemption or a retail authorisation. We've discussed that distinction in more detail here. A retrofit involves an Embedded Network Operator (ENO) converting an existing building (with separately metered sites) into an embedded network. This results in the building having a single connection point where electricity is purchased in bulk and…
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ASIC’s report on regulatory technology

ASIC’s report on regulatory technology

AU Energy Compliance, Financial Services
The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) has published a report (Report 685) on ASIC’s Regtech initiatives during 2019-2020. We’ve spoken previously about the benefits of advanced software when it comes to regulatory compliance. Compliance processes are generally complex. They have many moving parts, and the amount of time and money required to enact processes can be high. Compliance management systems such as the Compliance HUB can simplify these processes and save a business both time and money. The ultimate aim of products such as the Compliance HUB is to embed compliance into decision-making. Compliance management software can simplify compliance processes by streamlining and simplifying tasks, eliminating redundancies, and improving efficiency. For example, automation can be used to automate the review and approval of large quantities of documents. This frees…
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Should Your Business Invest in a Compliance Management System?

Should Your Business Invest in a Compliance Management System?

AU Energy Compliance, Financial Services
Businesses around the world face challenges in managing regulatory compliance. Compliance requirements and the regulatory environment are constantly changing and there is no 'one-size-fits-all' solution. Companies are constantly faced with a balancing act between the risk of not complying with rules and the cost of having to comply with the rules. Companies are not the only ones that are affected by these challenges. They have a huge impact on the public sector and the general public. When it comes to investment in software, businesses typically start with a customer relationship management system and then sales and marketing software. Traditionally, compliance software is not considered a priority. Many businesses use excel spreadsheets to track their regulatory obligations. And yet, with the potential cost of non-compliance, is that an adequate approach? As…
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4 Months not prompt enough to fix customers’ meters

4 Months not prompt enough to fix customers’ meters

AU Energy Compliance
For the failure to promptly fix meters, the AER has issued eight infringement notices which led three AGL retailers to pay a total of 160,000 in penalties. Each infringement notice cost the AGL entities $20,000. The infringement notices were issued as the AER found that there were sufficient grounds to believe that there was a breach of clause 11.87.7(h) of the National Electricity Rules (NER). The provision requires that a ‘financially responsible Market Participant’ receiving a notice of a metering installation malfunction under clause 11.87.7(g)(3) must ‘promptly appoint a Metering Coordinator’. Note, Embedded Network Retailers are currently not considered ‘financially responsible Market Participants’. However, if the planned changes by the AEMC come into effect it is likely that the same rules apply to Embedded Network Retailers. The infringement notices offer…
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New NECF derogations for NSW Retailers

New NECF derogations for NSW Retailers

AU Energy Compliance
The passing of the NSW Government’s Electricity Infrastructure Investment Bill 2020 dominated headlines at the end of 2020. However, with much less pomp and ceremony, NSW also introduced further derogations to the National Energy Customer Framework (NECF).     Until October 2020, there existed (in the Electricity Supply Regulations) a prohibition on the remote disconnection of small customers in NSW. However, a combination of new regulations has ended this blanket prohibition while imposing additional compliance obligations on retailers operating in NSW. The new provisions can be found in the Gas and Electricity (Consumer Safety) Regulation 2018 and the Electricity Supply (General) Regulation 2014 and set out requirements for retailers and metering providers in respect of remote disconnection and reconnection of small customers. The key changes relevant to retailers are summarised below.…
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Spot the difference: Legal vs Compliance

Spot the difference: Legal vs Compliance

AU Energy Compliance, Building and Construction, Consumer, Financial Services, NZ Energy Compliance
Many large businesses have both in-house legal teams and compliance teams. What is the difference between the two and how do you know if you need a legal or a compliance professional? The role of an in-house legal team Of the two, the role of an in-house lawyer is probably more easily defined. Their role involves managing legal risk and providing legal services that support business growth. On a day-to-day basis, this includes reviewing contracts, interpreting the law, managing disputes and litigation, managing employment law matters, and providing legal advice on areas such as privacy law. In-house legal teams are staffed by qualified lawyers and are typically supported by external law firms engaged on panels. Having an in-house lawyer can be a very good investment for a business seeking to…
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