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Victorian Embedded Network ‘ban’: proposed changes to the embedded network regulatory framework in Victoria

Victorian Embedded Network ‘ban’: proposed changes to the embedded network regulatory framework in Victoria

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On 11 January 2022, the expert panel appointed by the Victorian Government to review the policy position of banning embedded networks in residential apartment buildings published its final report. The recommendations, if implemented, will have a significant impact on embedded network operators in Victoria. The report sets out the panel’s recommendations for implementing a ban and further considers how the ban should apply to, or rather what changes should be made to the regulation of, legacy (existing) embedded networks. Consultation process This final report follows extensive consultation. In January 2021, the expert panel published an issues paper and, in response, received 133 submissions. The panel then held two online sessions. The expert panel published a draft recommendations report in June 2021 outlining proposed recommendations to implement the ban. The expert…
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Price Comparisons under the Electricity Retail Code

Price Comparisons under the Electricity Retail Code

AU Energy Compliance
On 12 January 2022, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced that energy retailer CovaU Pty Ltd had paid $33,300 in penalties arising from three infringement notices issued for alleged contraventions of the Competition and Consumer (Industry Code—Electricity Retail) Regulations 2019 (the Code). The alleged contraventions were that CovaU advertised three residential electricity plans on its website without stating a percentage difference to the comparison price between 27 June and 19 July 2021.   Below we discuss the Code and the comparison price obligations when it comes to unconditional offers. A refresher on the Electricity Retail Code The Code commenced on 1 July 2019 and is prescribed as a mandatory industry code under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) (the Act). It operates to limit the standing offer…
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AEMO Draft 2022 Integrated System Plan review

AEMO Draft 2022 Integrated System Plan review

AU Energy Compliance
On 10 December 2021, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) published the Draft 2022 Integrated System Plan (ISP) (Draft ISP). This was subject to a ‘transparency review’ by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER), released 7 January 2022.  The Draft ISP is now in the consultation stages, prior to final publication in June 2022. What is it? The Integrated System Plan (ISP) is a document published every two years, that sets out a 30 year plan for development of Australia’s electricity system in the National Energy Market (NEM). It describes the challenges faced in the NEM and sets out an “optimal development path” on how to respond to such challenges.  The Draft ISP seeks collaboration and input from stakeholders to get an accurate picture of the state of the market, and…
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The Essential Services Commission (Vic) Minimum Feed-In Tariff review 2022/23

The Essential Services Commission (Vic) Minimum Feed-In Tariff review 2022/23

AU Energy Compliance
On 2 December 2021, the Essential Services Commission (ESC) released its draft decision for minimum feed-in tariffs for solar exporters. It is anticipated that the figures in the draft will apply from 1 July 2022. This short article will discuss the proposed tariffs and provide a brief summary of the reasoning behind the adjusted tariff. We will also look at how the ESC calculates the tariff. The New Proposed Tariffs: The draft minimum feed-in tariffs have been calculated the same way as previous reviews (discussed below). The draft minimum feed-in tariffs are as follows: The draft minimum flat feed-in tariff for 2022–23 is 5.2 cents per kWh. This is 22 percent lower than the minimum rate for 2021–22. The draft time-varying feed-in tariffs are also lower than for 2021–22. *…
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Refresher: the Australian Energy Regulator’s (AER) Exempt Selling Guidelines

Refresher: the Australian Energy Regulator’s (AER) Exempt Selling Guidelines

AU Energy Compliance
NB: The most recent guidelines for exempt energy sellers are contained in the AER (Retail) Exempt Selling Guideline dated March 2018. In February 2021, the AER commenced a review of the guidelines. A consultation paper was published on 18 May 2021 and stakeholder submissions were closed on 30 June 2021. At present, the 2018 guidelines are still applicable. However, it is anticipated that there may be changes when the review process is complete. Introduction The AER guidelines for exemption relate to any person or business (entity) who sells energy to another person. Such a seller must have either a retailer authorisation or a retail exemption. To put it plainly ‘exemption’ in this context refers to whether a person or entity is required to be authorised or whether they can seek…
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ACCC Report: Prices, Profits, and Margins in the Supply of Electricity in the NEM

ACCC Report: Prices, Profits, and Margins in the Supply of Electricity in the NEM

AU Energy Compliance
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has published its sixth report as part of its inquiry into the prices, profits and margins in the supply of electricity in the National Electricity Market (NEM).  The report has made a number of findings including that electricity costs are now the lowest they have been in eight years with the average annual residential spend now $1,434.00, down $128.00 or 8% over the previous two financial years.  Lower wholesale spot market prices have started to flow through to consumers and this, according to the ACCC, is the primary cause of decreases in overall costs across the last two financial years. The ACCC expects a further reduction in the wholesale costs in the next year. The ACCC considers that the introduction of the default…
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Victorian Essential Services Commission Annual Report 2020-21 – Summary

Victorian Essential Services Commission Annual Report 2020-21 – Summary

AU Energy Compliance
On 17 November 2021, the Victorian Essential Services Commission (ESC) released its Annual Report for 2020-21 (the Report). The purpose of the Report is to provide an overview of the previous financial year (ending 20 June 2021), including what they did, how they performed on key goals, and what they plan to do in the future. Key highlights of 2020-21 There were a number of key issues discussed in the Report: COVID-19 - this had a big impact on the ESC and influenced their activities in a number of areas.   Some key directives they implemented included:         monitoring and reporting on customer and industry data in the energy and water industry to track the impact of the pandemicincreasing customer protections from disconnection, and protections for small businesses facing payment difficulties due to…
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AER Calls for Energy Retailers to Focus on Support for Customers in Hardship

AER Calls for Energy Retailers to Focus on Support for Customers in Hardship

AU Energy Compliance
During COVID, we saw governments enacting laws to support people suffering financial hardship due to the pandemic. We saw this in relation to tenancy evictions and the like. Despite the emergence from lockdowns in several states, people are still doing it tough. Debt, for many people, is not easy to pay down. That position will not change soon. In a recent publication on its website, the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has called on energy retailers to provide “better” support to customers in hardship. The AER released its Annual Retail Markets Report 2020/21 on 30 November (2021) and noted that despite the fall in retail energy prices for households for the year 20/21, energy debt had risen by 12%, and the amount of the debt of customers entering the various retailer’s…
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Electricity and Embedded Networks within Residential Parks in NSW

Electricity and Embedded Networks within Residential Parks in NSW

AU Energy Compliance
The New South Wales Government is currently reviewing laws that apply to residential and land lease communities. The Government notes that more than 35,000 people live in over 500 residential and land lease communities across New South Wales. The review focuses on the Residential (Land Lease) Communities Act 2013. This Act covers permanent sites in caravan and residential parks and sets out the rights and responsibilities of residents and park operators. A review is conducted every five years that considers how the legislation is working. Various parties have lodged submissions on the consultation paper that the New South Wales Government published. Embedded networks are specifically considered within the consultation paper. The consultation paper notes that part 7 of the Act regulates how and what an operator can charge for utility…
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The Ongoing Viability of Big Batteries

The Ongoing Viability of Big Batteries

AU Energy Compliance
An article appeared in The Guardian on 30 November 2021, raising concerns from battery makers and storage providers in relation to the Australian Energy Market Commission’s (AEMC) impending rule changes. The AEMC’s draft report, released in July 2021, proposed charging storage providers for drawing power. This drew responses from Tesla and Snowy Hydro: Tesla: (the charges would) kill the commercial viability of all grid storage projects. Snowy Hydro: This is a major policy change, amounting to a tax on infrastructure critical to achieving a renewable future. Both companies noted that the consumer would end up paying higher electricity costs. On 2 December 2021, the AEMC published its final decision on its website, under the heading “Incentives for more batteries to enter the market”. It was clear that they had not…
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