The enforcement and penalty regime for energy sellers in Victoria

The enforcement and penalty regime for energy sellers in Victoria

AU Energy Compliance
Changes have recently been made to the enforcement and penalty regime for non-compliance with energy laws in Victoria. In this article we explain some of those key changes and their implications for energy sellers. Energy Fairness Act The Energy Legislation Amendment (Energy Fairness) Act 2021 is now in effect.  The Energy Fairness Act includes various provisions of importance for all energy retailers operating within Victoria including prohibitions on door-to-door sales, cold calling, and the use of save and win back customer retention strategies. The Energy Fairness Act introduced criminal penalties for wrongful disconnection with fines of up to one million dollars (an increase from the previous maximum of $5,000.00).  There are two tiers to the wrongful disconnection criminal penalty regime.  The first is a retailer who knowingly or recklessly arranges…
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Victorian Energy Retail Code of Practice (formerly the Energy Retail Code)

Victorian Energy Retail Code of Practice (formerly the Energy Retail Code)

AU Energy Compliance
On 1 March 2022, the Victorian Energy Retail Code of Practice took effect.  The rules previously existed in a different iteration (Energy Retail Code), however in December 2021, Victorian legislative changes deemed existing energy codes as ‘codes of practice’.  To fully implement the new enforcement framework and effect the conversion, the Essential Services Commission (ESC) undertook a 6 month review and consultation process, which culminated in the final version of the Energy Retail Code of Practice being published. The new code has no substantive changes to the obligations for licensees or exempt persons.  In the final decision, the ESC noted that the process of converting the existing code to a ‘code of practice’ was primarily an administrative one.  Chiefly, the changes involved re-numbering provisions, and minor clarifications.  This was to…
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The 2022-23 Victorian Default Offer review

The 2022-23 Victorian Default Offer review

AU Energy Compliance
Recently we wrote an article about the draft AER 2022-23 Default Market Offer.  A parallel process is taking place in Victoria, and on 15 March 2022 the Essential Services Commission (ESC) released their draft decision about the Victorian Default Offer (VDO). Submissions are open until 12 April 2022 with the release of the final decision in May, and decision to take effect from 1 July 2022.  The ESC will hold a public (online) forum for those interested on 31 March 2022. About the VDO The ESC is responsible for setting the VDO prices, which is a set independent electricity price. While the VDO’s objective is to provide a reasonably priced option, it may not always be the cheapest option.  It is useful as a reference point for consumers but they…
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Draft Retail Exempt Selling Guideline (Version 6) March 2022

Draft Retail Exempt Selling Guideline (Version 6) March 2022

AU Energy Compliance
What’s Changed? On 9 March 2022 the AER published its draft Retail Exempt Selling Guideline (Version 6). The AER have invited stakeholder’s submissions which closes on 7 April 2022. The draft amendments to the guideline invoke some significant changes and also involves some minor tweaking to give clarity in relation to compliance obligations. This document provides a summary of the changes. The first point to note is the name changes to the guidelines. The AER stated: We have revised the title of the Guideline from AER (Retail) Exempt Selling Guideline to Retail Exempt Selling Guideline. Similarly, we have changed the title of the Electricity Network Service Provider – Registration Exemption Guideline to Network Exemptions Guideline (network guideline). The title changes of both guidelines aim to promote symmetry between the two…
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ESC: Compliance and Performance Reporting Guidelines Version 7

ESC: Compliance and Performance Reporting Guidelines Version 7

AU Energy Compliance
 Transitional Period Guide and Summary of Amended Provisions On 16 February 2022, the Essential Services Commission of Victoria (ESC) amended its Compliance and Performance Reporting Guidelines (the ‘Guideline’). The amendments are contained in version 7 of the Guidelines. This guideline applies to all licensed Victorian electricity and gas retailers as a statutory condition of licence under section 23A of the Electricity Industry Act 2000 (Vic) (EIA) and section 33 of the Gas Industry Act 2001 (Vic) (GIA). This guideline also applies to all licensed Victorian electricity and gas distributors as a condition of licence. The Guideline took effect on 16 February 2022. Compliance indicator and performance indicator reporting obligations take effect from 1 July 2022. This performance reporting requirement will take effect from 1 March 2022, with data for the…
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Embedded Network Operators can now join EWOQ

Embedded Network Operators can now join EWOQ

AU Energy Compliance
On 28 February 2022, the Energy and Water Ombudsman (Prescribed Energy Entities) Amendment Regulation 2021 (EWO-AR) came into effect. The amendments insert two new sections into the Energy and Water Act 2006 (Queensland) (the ‘Act’). The changes affect any individual or company that runs an embedded network in Queensland and are an ‘exempt seller’. The New Sections: Section 4 of the EWO-AR introduces a new section, (2A), in to the Act which prescribes certain entities as energy entities for the purpose of the Regs. 2A        Prescribed energy entities—Act, s 7 (1) For section 7(2) of the Act, the following entities are prescribed to be energy entities— (a)a retailer whose retailer authorisation authorises the retailer to sell electricity by on-supplying it to residential customers; (b) an exempt seller, if any of…
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A New Exempt Seller Guideline (for NECF)

A New Exempt Seller Guideline (for NECF)

AU Energy Compliance
On 9 March 2022 the AER published its draft Retail Exempt Selling Guideline (version 6) for public consultation, which includes a copy of the following accompanying documents: draft AER factsheet titled How to access retailers for your energy needs if you live in an embedded network; anddraft Exempt Seller Hardship Policy template. In this article we examine the implications of the proposed revised Guideline on embedded network operators (with operations in NECF). Key Changes The proposed changes to the Retail Guidelines will result in greater certainty for embedded network operators and consist of sensible and balanced mechanisms designed to introduce additional consumer protections into a growing market. The AER notes the following key amendments being proposed, that may be of particular interest to our clients: The introduction of a new hardship policy condition;the introduction…
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Extreme Weather and Natural Disaster- Responses by Energy Retailers

Extreme Weather and Natural Disaster- Responses by Energy Retailers

AU Energy Compliance
Extreme weather events as we are seeing in NSW and QLD should be front of mind for energy sellers in the context of the provision of essential services. In this post, we set out what energy retailers must and should do in response to such events. Electrical safety One of the key risks of flooding is electrical safety. On Monday, Master Electricians Australia issued an urgent warning of injuries and potentially deaths from solar panels and other electrical equipment resulting from flooding. The warning noted that solar panels continue to produce electricity even after power has been cut off and panels have been turned off at the switch board. Energy sellers operating in embedded networks, as exempt network providers, should consult with the local DNSP and electrical engineers to implement…
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