AER’s Statement of Expectations

AER’s Statement of Expectations

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The AER has published its third statement of expectations of energy businesses during Covid 19. This statement of expectations applies from 1 November 2020 and will continue until 31 March 2021, and potentially beyond. In the new statement of expectations, the AER notes that the Covid 19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on the Australian community with many people affected by dramatic changes to their lives, businesses, income, and working arrangements. The AER notes that Covid 19 continues to influence energy use and the ability of customers to pay their bills. The AER suggests that retailers consider the methods of communication that they use when seeking to get in contact with a customer who is potentially experiencing financial difficulty. The AER recommends that retailers: listen to customers, who…
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Victorian Embedded Networks: What’s the deal?

Victorian Embedded Networks: What’s the deal?

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On 28 October 2020, we presented a webinar on the Victorian embedded network regulatory regime and changes under consideration. The webinar was recorded and you can watch it on-demand here by registering at this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_G9mMl-BLQKmCohS27IBh1Q If you would like to learn more about embedded networks in Victoria, please get in touch.
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Retailer Reconnection- Rule 121

Retailer Reconnection- Rule 121

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Disconnection is a key area of risk for energy retailers. The process that must be followed by a retailer have been set out in other posts by Compliance Quarter. Today, we briefly look at the re-connection requirements. Retailers must comply with rule 121 of the National Energy Retail Rules. This is summarised below. Where a retailer has arranged for the de-energisation of a small customer'spremises and the customer has within 10 business days of the de-energisation: a. Rectified the matter that led to the de-energisation or madearrangements to the satisfaction of the retailer; b. made a request for re-energisation; and c. paid any charge for re-energisation; A retailer must arrange for re-connection of the customer by lodging a request with the distributor or arrange for the remote re-connection of the…
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Retailer-initiated de-energisation of premises –small customers

Retailer-initiated de-energisation of premises –small customers

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Currently, retailers are not disconnecting small customers as the world faces COVID. This is largely as a result of the AER publishing a statement of expectations. You can read more about the AER's statement of expectations here. Today we are looking at the rules applicable to retailer de-energisations of small customers (specifically in NECF under Retail Rules, Part 6, Divisions 1 and 2, Rules 107(2) and 116(1)). We focus below on disconnection for non-payment and note that additional or different obligations apply to disconnection for other reasons (such as the disconnection of a move-in or carry over customer or for the illegal use of energy). Responsibility for compliance Energy retailers are responsible for compliance with the National Energy Retail Rules and the National Energy Retail Law. The Retail Law requires…
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ESC Guide to embedded networks

ESC Guide to embedded networks

AU Energy Compliance
The Essential Services Commision of Victoria has published a variety of resources for operators of embedded networks on its website including a guide to exempt providers obligations within Victoria and a range of other material designed to assist exempt operators in meeting their obligations. An embedded network is a privately owned electricity network that is not part of the National Electricity Market. Electricity sold within an embedded network is typically purchased at a parent connection point and then distributed to those customers within the embedded network usually through child connection points. Embedded networks are typically found in apartment buildings, shopping centres, airports, caravan parks, retirement or lifestyle villages, and land lease parks. In Victoria, a business is required to hold a licence to supply or sell electricity pursuant to section…
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iSelect’s $8.5 Million Fine

iSelect’s $8.5 Million Fine

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The Federal Court of Australia has ordered that iSelect pay $8.5 million in penalties for making false or misleading representations about its electricity comparison services. iSelect Limited admitted that between November 2006 and December 2018 it misled consumers by representing that it would compare all electricity plans offered by its partners and recommend the most suitable or competitive plan when this was not the case. The commercial agreements that iSelect Limited had in place with its partner electricity retailers restricted the number of electricity plans those retailers could upload onto the comparator system, and therefore the plans recommended to consumers were not necessarily the most suitable or competitive. “iSelect was not upfront with consumers that it wasn’t comparing all plans offered by its partner retailers. In fact, about 38 per…
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Retailer Billing Rule Change

Retailer Billing Rule Change

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The AEMC has released a consultation paper on the ‘Bill contents and billing requirements’ Rule Change Request made by the Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor earlier this year. In broad terms, the Minister’s proposal is to replace the prescriptive rules-based approach to regulating the content of customer bills with a principles-based approach. The idea is for the general principles proposed by the Minister to be captured by a guideline developed by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER). Why the change? The Federal Government is concerned that energy bills have become too complex and information heavy, resulting in poor customer experience. It has been suggested that while most retailers technically comply with the current prescriptive content requirements under Rule 25, their bills are not necessarily presented in a customer friendly way. New…
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Remote disconnection and re-energisation in New South Wales

Remote disconnection and re-energisation in New South Wales

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The New South Wales Minister for Energy and Environment Matthew Kean MP has extended, by way of regulation, the prohibition on remote disconnection and re-energisation until 1 October 2020. The prior prohibition was to expire on 1 September 2020. You can view the regulation here: https://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/view/pdf/asmade/sl-2020-508 the short nature of the extension is notable and is probably a result of the New South Wales government being distracted by the coronavirus and not being in a position to fully consider whether or not remote disconnection and re-energisation should continue to be prohibited. We will continue to monitor this space and advise our clients accordingly.
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Victoria’s New Reform Package supporting consumers throughout the COVID pandemic

Victoria’s New Reform Package supporting consumers throughout the COVID pandemic

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The Essential Services Commission (Victoria) has published its final decision on ‘supporting energy customers throughout the coronavirus pandemic.’ The final decision includes an initial temporary package of reforms that will take effect from 1 October 2020 and will last for six months until 31 March 2021. The commission notes that it has the discretion to extend this timeframe if required and if in the long-term interests of Victorian consumers. The package of reforms is summarised below and interested parties can review the final decision here: https://www.esc.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/supporting-energy-customers-through-coronavirus-pandemic-final-decision-20200824.pdf Need for change The commission has been monitoring the consequences of coronavirus on energy consumers and this has led to the decision that additional reform is required: Based on the evidence available to us since the start of the pandemic, we consider there is…
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The basic ingredients of a successful compliance program

The basic ingredients of a successful compliance program

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We have been operating Compliance Quarter for over three years now and one of the key components of our service offering is the outsourced Compliance Manager role that we provide to several businesses operating in highly regulated industries. Providing the outsourced Compliance Manager role gives us the ability to benchmark businesses when it comes to compliance. The outsourced Compliance Manager role also helps us understand when a business is likely to face compliance issues into the future. When it comes to determining whether a business will or will not be compliant, there are some very basic metrics that determine success. What is a compliance culture? The most critical aspect of compliance is a compliant culture. What this means is that an organisation’s staff must value compliant and ethical conduct. Compliance…
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