Articles

AER’s Annual compliance and enforcement report 2020-21

AER’s Annual compliance and enforcement report 2020-21

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A report published by the AER highlights the range of enforcement activities undertaken during 2020-21 and serves as a clear warning to energy retailers of the importance of ensuring compliance with the Rules and Laws. Source: AER's Annual compliance and enforcement report 2020-21 The AER has highlighted actions relating to failures by energy retailers in areas including wrongful disconnection, failure to provide life support protections to vulnerable customers, and failure to meet timeframes for installing and repairing meters used to calculate customers’ energy bills. Highlights from the report include energy businesses paying a total of $3.8 Million in civil penalties as part of resolutions to litigation commenced by the AER and a further $960,000 being paid in infringement notices for alleged breaches of the Laws. Source: AER's Annual compliance and…
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Is Victoria really banning Embedded Networks, or just Re-naming them?

Is Victoria really banning Embedded Networks, or just Re-naming them?

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In a recent article, we summarised the findings of the Expert Panel in the Victorian Embedded Networks Review Draft Recommendations Report (Report). The implementation of the Panel’s recommendations would see the end of ‘embedded networks’ by 2023. However, subject to certain conditions, ‘private networks’ will remain. Below, we highlight the key components of the Report for embedded network operators in Victoria. It is clear from the Report that embedded networks will not be ‘banned’, rather they will be re-named ‘private networks’ and subject to stricter regulation. Residential vs Commercial The Panel’s recommendations would apply to residential embedded networks only. The likely reason for this is that the election promise on which this review was based, referred only to embedded networks in residential apartment buildings. In respect of commercial or industrial…
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Submission to the AER’s Network and Retail Exemption Guidelines Review

Submission to the AER’s Network and Retail Exemption Guidelines Review

AU Energy Compliance
Compliance Quater has lodged a submission with the AER addressing the questions raised by the AER but also drawing the AER's attention to a range of issues that we have identified within the guidelines. We've submitted that the AER should consider implementing a 'fast track approval' process for the approval of proposed retrofit conversions of sites where the resulting embedded network would clearly bring consumers better pricing and where the configuration of the network infrastructure facilitates consumers who wish to 'opt-out.' As energy sellers know, the regulatory framework is partly designed to set the minimum standards of conduct expected and to punish those that are non-compliant. We believe that it is time that incentives were built into the regulatory framework. Where energy sellers develop products or services that have a…
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Update on Victoria’s proposal to ‘ban’ embedded networks

Update on Victoria’s proposal to ‘ban’ embedded networks

AU Energy Compliance
In January we reported on updates to the Victorian Government’s proposal to ‘ban’ embedded networks within residential developments. The Expert Panel that was established by the Victorian Government to determine how to implement this ban has now produced a draft report. The Expert Panel is accepting submissions and the consultation period for the draft report closes on 6 August 2021 at 5 PM. The Expert Panel is particularly interested in submissions on the following: • The proposed requirement to have renewable or clean energy technologies and what this might look like in new residential private networks• The most cost-effective approach to upgrading internal metering and associated infrastructure in legacy (existing) embedded networks to readily enable a transition for customers to an on-market retailer of their choice• Reasonable timeframes for upgrading…
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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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