AER hardship review concludes there is room for improvement

AER hardship review concludes there is room for improvement

AU Energy Compliance, Compliance
Introduction The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) conducted a comprehensive hardship compliance review of several energy retailers, assessing their adherence to obligations towards customers facing financial hardship under the National Energy Retail Law and the National Energy Retail Rules. AER powers The AER, under section 206 of the National Energy Retail Law, holds the authority to issue compulsory notices to energy retailers. This review was a key project under the AER's 2022-23 Compliance and Enforcement Priority. Key findings of the review Identifying hardship customers: Some retailers were found to inadequately identify customers experiencing payment difficulties, with an over-reliance on customers to self-identify. In contrast, other retailers had proactive systems to identify and support such customers effectively. Informing customers of hardship policies: There was variable compliance in informing customers about the retailer’s…
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Voluntary Embedded Network Code of Practice – Western Australia (WA)

Voluntary Embedded Network Code of Practice – Western Australia (WA)

WA Energy Compliance
Background The Voluntary Embedded Network Code of Practice (the Code) was developed by Energy Policy WA, responsible for developing the policy and regulatory framework for the electricity sector in Western Australia. This Code aims to provide similar customer protections and service standards to embedded network customers as those supplied by licensed electricity retailers in Western Australia. During the initial voluntary period of 6 months (with possible extension), learnings from this Code will help inform the development of a mandatory code of practice for alternative electricity services (AES), which may apply to embedded network sellers and other emerging business models that fall outside the licensing framework. The AES framework is expected to be implemented in late 2024 or early 2025. The decision paper outlines feedback received from key stakeholders during the…
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The NT Utilities Commission releases Decision Paper on stage 2 of electricity licensing regime review

The NT Utilities Commission releases Decision Paper on stage 2 of electricity licensing regime review

Compliance, NT Energy Compliance
In 2022, the Utilities Commission of the Northern Territory (the Commission) commenced a review of the Territory’s licensing regime which aims to clarify and enhance the operation of the licensing regime.  The review is being undertaken in three separate components (stages): Stage 1: a review of the coverage, relevance and flexibility (scope and design) of the licensing regime Stage 2: a review of the consistency, efficiency and effectiveness of the form and content of licences Stage 3: a review of the efficiency and effectiveness of the Commission’s licensing and related reporting The Decision Paper released in August 2023 marked the completion of Stage 1, focusing on refining the scope and design of the regime. This Decision Paper, released in January 2024, finalises stage 2, presenting the Commission’s decisions on new…
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Privacy Awareness Week (PAW) 2023-24

Privacy Awareness Week (PAW) 2023-24

AU Energy Compliance, Compliance
What is Privacy Awareness Week (PAW)? Privacy Awareness Week is an annual event held in Australia by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) to raise awareness about privacy issues and promote the importance of protecting personal information. The event is typically held in May and involves a range of activities and events, such as webinars, workshops, and social media campaigns. In 2023-24, Privacy Awareness Week is expected to focus on the importance of privacy in the digital age and the need for individuals and organisations to take proactive steps to protect personal information in online environments. What is PAW 2023-24? The upcoming PAW in 2023 will be held from Monday 1 May to Sunday 7 May. This year's theme is "Back to Basics," which emphasises the fundamental principles…
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Understanding the New Energy Tech Consumer Code – A Guide for Clients

Understanding the New Energy Tech Consumer Code – A Guide for Clients

AU Energy Compliance, Compliance
Introduction The New Energy Tech Consumer Code is a voluntary code that sets minimum standards for retailers in the new energy technology market. The Code provides consumers with clear information about products and services, while retailers commit to providing high-quality products and services in a transparent, accountable, and fair manner. Participating in the Code To participate in the New Energy Tech Consumer Code, clients need to follow these steps: Step 1: Understand the Code Requirements The first step is to understand the requirements of the Code, which include: Providing clear information about products and services, including pricing, performance, and warranties. Using accurate and clear advertising that does not mislead consumers. Complying with fair and reasonable contract terms, including the right to a cooling-off period. Having a complaints and dispute resolution…
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A Guide to AER’s Minimum Disconnection Threshold

A Guide to AER’s Minimum Disconnection Threshold

AU Energy Compliance, Compliance
In this article, we provide a detailed overview of the Australian Energy Regulator's (AER) 2017 decision on the minimum disconnection amount for energy customers. Background and Context On March 17, 2017, the AER released its final decision on the minimum disconnection amount applicable to small customers within the jurisdictions of the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania. The decision aimed to balance the protection of vulnerable consumers with the need to maintain the efficient operation of energy services. The Final Decision In its final decision, the AER determined that the minimum disconnection amount for small customers should be set at $300 for both electricity and gas services. This amount was an increase from the previous threshold of $200, which had been in place since 2006.…
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Better Bills Guideline Version 2: What Retailers Need to Know

Better Bills Guideline Version 2: What Retailers Need to Know

AU Energy Compliance
The Better Bills Guideline (Version 1) was published on 31 March 2022 and set out requirements for energy retailers to prepare and issue bills to small customers. However, potential drafting ambiguities and concerns were raised by industry stakeholders regarding the calculation and publication of the better offer message on a customer's bill. In response, on 23 September 2023 the AER proposed amendments to the guideline in a draft Better Bills Guideline (Version 2), including clarifying the requirement for customer read estimates, aligning the better offer check and message requirements, and amending the commencement provisions following a rule change by the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC). The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) received additional feedback from stakeholders and made minor amendments to the guideline, these changes including stakeholder feedback have been further…
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<strong>Embedded Network Action Plan – New South Wales</strong>

Embedded Network Action Plan – New South Wales

AU Energy Compliance, Consultation
The Embedded Network Action Plan sets expectations for embedded network operators to better engage with their customers. This comes after reviews and inquiries found that some customers of embedded networks face poor outcomes due to gaps in the current regulatory framework. The NSW Government Embedded Network Action Plan aims to provide equitable consumer and price protections for customers of embedded networks. The plan outlines immediate and medium-term actions to improve outcomes for these customers. Immediate actions: Introduce a maximum price for energy sold to customers of hot and chilled water embedded networks and gas embedded networks to protect against unreasonably high prices. Release a Ministerial Statement of Expectations (see below) Medium-term actions: Implement policy updates to strengthen consumer protections for hot and chilled water embedded network users. Broaden the Energy…
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<strong>Navigating the NERL: A Guide for Authorised Retailers on Transferring Customers Without Consent</strong>

Navigating the NERL: A Guide for Authorised Retailers on Transferring Customers Without Consent

AU Energy Compliance
Transferring customers without their explicit informed consent (for more on EIC – click here) is a breach of the National Energy Retail Law (NERL) and can result in penalties. It is important for Authorised Retailers to understand the rules and regulations that apply to the transfer of customers without consent. This advice outlines the rules that apply to the transfer of customers without consent and provides recommendations for Authorised Retailers to ensure compliance. Definition of Small Customer A small customer is a residential customer, defined in section 3 of the NERL as customers who purchase energy principally for personal, household or domestic use at premises, or a business customer who consumes less than 100MWh of electricity annually in New South Wales and Queensland, or less than 160MWh of electricity annually…
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<strong>Energy Sector Data Compliance: A Guide to Navigating the New Era of Transparency and Accountability</strong>

Energy Sector Data Compliance: A Guide to Navigating the New Era of Transparency and Accountability

AU Energy Compliance, Consumer Data Right
As the world continues to shift towards a more sustainable and efficient energy sector, the importance of responsible data management has become increasingly apparent. The Australian government has recognized this and has recently published a compliance guidance document for data holders in the energy sector. This document is designed to provide information on the regulations and requirements for data management, including data collection, storage, and sharing, and to promote transparency and accountability in the energy sector. One key area addressed in the document is data collection. Data holders in the energy sector are required to collect data in a manner that is accurate, complete, and relevant to their business operations. This data must be collected in a way that is consistent with the Privacy Act 1988 and the Australian Privacy…
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