AER’s 2021 to 2022 Compliance and Enforcement Priorities: Consumer Protection

AER’s 2021 to 2022 Compliance and Enforcement Priorities: Consumer Protection

AU Energy Compliance
#NECF, #Retailers, #ExemptOperators On 23 June 2021, the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) released five compliance and enforcement priorities for 2021 to 2022 with a major focus on protecting energy consumers. The AER Chair, Clare Savage, said that the AER will be monitoring retailers to ensure that they identify residential customers in financial difficulty and offer appropriate payment plans to those consumers who need assistance as one of the five key priorities. Commenting further, Clare Savage noted, "Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic the AER has monitored consumer debt levels as well as the number of consumers that are in retailer hardship policies or have payment plans. It is concerning to see that while debt levels have increased, the number of consumers with payment plans or existing retailer hardship programs has not." The…
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Energy Legislation Amendment (Energy Fairness) Bill 2021 – The Breakdown

Energy Legislation Amendment (Energy Fairness) Bill 2021 – The Breakdown

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#Victoria, #Exemptsellers The Energy Fairness Bill tabled in the Victorian Parliament in late May 2021 has been in development for almost three years. If passed, we will see the most significant changes to the Electricity Industry Act 2000 (Vic) (Act) since the introduction of Division 5A of Part 2 (small scale solar generation).  Below, we provide a breakdown of the key elements of the bill for energy retailers operating in Victoria - hint: these regulations will not align Victoria more closely with the National Energy Customer Framework (NECF). We also highlight some key areas of concern with respect to the legislative drafting which should be explored and addressed prior to implementation.   Imprisonment Despite what some have been led to believe, we are confident that no employee of a retailer will…
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Review of the AER’s Network and Retail Exemption Guidelines

Review of the AER’s Network and Retail Exemption Guidelines

AU Energy Compliance
#Embedded #AER On 18 May 2021, the Australian Energy Regulator published a consultation paper concerning a review of the AER's (Retail) Exempt Selling Guideline and Electricity Network Service Provider - Registration Exemption Guidelines. The consultation paper was published as a result of the review commenced in February 2021 into each of those respective guidelines. The stated objectives of the AER's review include to improve the clarity and readability of exemption requirements, to streamline the Network Exemption Guideline and to remove redundancies, to clarify concepts such as own, control, and operate, to introduce new standardised statements where information requirements need to be met, and to improve consistency between the two guidelines. Clearly, this review being conducted by the Australian Energy Regulator is of significant importance to all exempt and authorised retailers…
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Essential Services Commission consultation paper on variation to the 2021 default offer

Essential Services Commission consultation paper on variation to the 2021 default offer

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#Victorian #Embedded #Retailers On 14 May 2021, the Essential Services Commission of Victoria announced that it had kicked off its next review into the Victorian Default Offer (VDO) and that it was seeking feedback from consumers and the energy industry before issuing a decision later in the year. The Essential Services Commission has released its consultation paper on variation to the 2021 default offer. The Essential Services Commission notes that the variation is required to account for changes to network tariffs applying from 1 July 2021. The consultation paper itself notes that the VDO was introduced by the Victorian government to regulate standing offer prices for electricity in Victoria commencing on 1 July 2019. Standing offers are contracts that electricity retailers are obliged to make available to domestic and small…
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AER Approves Network Tariffs

AER Approves Network Tariffs

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#ExemptSuppliers, #AuthorisedRetailers On 14 May 2021, the Australian Energy Regulator announced that it had approved distribution tariffs for distributors in various states including New South Wales, South Australia, and Queensland. Electricity bills are made up of a number of components which include wholesale cost, retail margin, and network charges. The majority of a residential retail bill is made up of network charges and so, the AER's determination will have a material impact on the price paid by consumers for electricity. Queensland In the case of Queensland, the AER approved the 2021 to 2022 electricity distribution tariffs proposed by Energex and Ergon Energy in accordance with their relevant 2020 to 2025 distribution determinations. The determinations set revenues that those distributors can recover to reflect their cost of delivering electricity supply to…
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AGL’s Customer Hardship Audit

AGL’s Customer Hardship Audit

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On 7 May 2021 the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) released the results of the latest compliance audit under the National Energy Retail Law. AGL Energy Ltd carried out an audit to assess compliance with its hardship, payment plan and disconnection obligations for the period 1 January 2020 to 30 April 2020. With the exception of one instance of non- compliance, the audit found that AGL complied in all material respects with its hardship, payment plans, and disconnection obligations. AGL rectified the issue giving rise to the partial compliance by updating its retail systems. Hardship Obligations Part Two of the National Energy Retail Law and Parts Three and Six of the National Energy Retail Rules set out obligations that retailers have in relation to payment plans, hardship policies, debt recovery, and…
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Compliance Reporting to the Australian Energy Regulator

Compliance Reporting to the Australian Energy Regulator

AU Energy Compliance
The Australian Energy Regulator's Compliance Procedures and Guidelines-Version 6 sets out the matter and form that retailers must submit compliance information and data to the AER. Retailers are required to submit information relating to their compliance with the National Energy Retail Law, National Energy Retail Rules, and National Energy Retail Regulations. Polices, systems and procedures The Retail Law requires that regulated entities establish and observe policies, systems, and procedures in accordance with the AER Compliance Procedures and Guidelines. Pursuant to the guideline, retailers must ensure that they are able to report accurately on their compliance in the manner and form required by the guidelines. Policies, systems and procedures must be established and operate in a manner and form consistent with the relevant Australian Standard AS/ISO 19600-Compliance Management Systems. One of…
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The Presentation of Electricity Retail Offers in NECF

The Presentation of Electricity Retail Offers in NECF

AU Energy Compliance
This article looks at the operation of the AER's Retail Pricing Information Guidelines (April 2018 - Version 5.0). The purpose of the Guideline is to provide guidance to retailers in the presentation of standing offer prices and market offer prices with the objective of assisting small customers in considering and comparing standing offer prices and market offer prices available. The genesis of the Guideline is section 61(1) of the National Energy Retail Law. Retailers looking to advertise or market offers may also need to consider the ACCC's Electricity Retail Code. The Retail Code is not considered in this article. The AER Pricing Guidelines refer to individual plans being plans that are available to a specific customer. The purpose of the Pricing Information Guideline is to enable a customer to compare…
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AER: The Final Statement of Expectations

AER: The Final Statement of Expectations

AU Energy Compliance
On 24 March 2021, the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) announced that it had extended its COVID-19 energy protections for a limited time. The AER's original Statement of Expectations was introduced at the start of the pandemic in March 2020. The Statement of Expectations has been updated a total of four times and applies to households and small businesses in Queensland, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, South Australia, and Tasmania. The Statement of Expectations sets out the expectations that the AER has with respect to how energy businesses deal with small business and residential customers who are potentially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The expectations include that all residential and small business customers who indicate that they may be in financial stress, be offered a payment plan or a hardship…
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AER’s audit: Provision of timely and accurate information

AER’s audit: Provision of timely and accurate information

AU Energy Compliance
The Australian Energy Regulator has released the results of its latest compliance audits looking at the provision of timely and accurate information. The audits in question looked at compliance by EnergyAustralia, M2 Energy, Red Energy and 1st Energy pursuant to Section 282 of the National Energy Retail Law. The audit covered reporting activities for the 1 October to 31 December 2019 reporting period. The audits identified a number of areas in which the audited businesses could improve how they prepare, present, and report performance data to the Australian Energy Regulator (AER). Both retailers and distributors must establish and implement policies and procedures to enable them to effectively monitor compliance with the National Energy Retail Law and the National Energy Retail Rules. One such requirement is found within Section 282 of…
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