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AU Energy Compliance

AER payment difficulty framework review

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) is conducting a review of the consumer protections available under the National Energy Customer Framework (NECF) for those experiencing payment

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AU Energy Compliance

How to Build an Effective Energy Retailer Compliance Program

It is very difficult for energy retailers who are operating independently of one another to understand what an effective compliance management program is. Typically, the only feedback that they receive is from regulators when something goes wrong i.e. when there is a breach that they are required to report on, and they subsequently go through an investigation and enforcement process. Regulators themselves do not fully understand the compliance function’s roles and responsibilities- they typically see the tail end, what goes wrong, and not the work that goes in to avoiding non-compliance.

Compliance Quarter has the advantage of having worked with a number of energy retailers and as a result is in a unique position in being able to explain what an effective compliance program looks like. So, what are some of the practical steps that each retailer should ensure they are taking to ensure compliance?

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AU Energy Compliance

Preparing to Apply for a Retailer Authorisation: A Comprehensive Guide

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) oversees the authorisation process for energy retailers in Australia. If you’re considering joining this market, it’s crucial to understand the AER’s guidelines and requirements. This article will outline the preparatory steps your business needs to take before applying for a retailer authorisation.

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AU Energy Compliance

The State of the Energy Market 2023: Observations and Insights

The energy market is an ever-evolving landscape, dictated by a complex interplay of market forces, consumer behaviours, and regulatory interventions. The ‘State of the Energy Market 2023’ report, published by the Australian Energy Regulator, provides a comprehensive evaluation of the market’s current state, offering valuable insights into the retail energy markets, market regulations, energy affordability, and the role of the energy retailer.

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AU Energy Compliance

Understanding Energy Retail Contracts and Retailer Obligations

Energy retail contracts are agreements between an energy retailer and a customer outlining the terms and conditions for the sale and supply of energy. There are primarily two types of contracts:

Standard Retail Contracts: These contracts are set out by law and offer basic consumer protections. The terms and conditions, including prices, are regulated and cannot be altered by the energy retailer.

Market Retail Contracts: These contracts are more flexible and may offer discounted rates, renewable energy options, and other incentives. The terms and conditions, including prices, are set by the energy retailer and may vary.

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AU Energy Compliance

The Electricity Invoice Rubik’s Cube

One of the few ways that an energy retailer can potentially distinguish themselves is by the way in which they present their electricity invoices. It is a challenging design problem: you have a number of constraints in the regulatory framework and with simple space on the page, you have a readers with different levels of understanding of energy- readers who have different levels of literacy who may have a disability and who may not read English, and you have a lot of information you want to convey. In those states that have adopted the National Energy Customer Framework (NECF), retailers must now comply with the Better Bills Guideline. In Victoria, retailers have more discretion.

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AU Energy Compliance

Proposed reforms to address unfair trading practices in Australia

The Australian Government is consulting on options to strengthen protections for consumers and small businesses against unfair trading practices. Unfair trading practices refer to certain commercial practices that cause harm but are not prohibited by existing laws. The consultation paper released by Treasury in August 2023 explores options to amend the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) to introduce new protections from unfair trading practices.

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AU Energy Compliance

Expanded Unfair Contract Terms Laws in effect in November

The changes in November 2023 aim to strengthen these protections. The revised unfair terms regime will apply to all new or renewed standard form consumer and small business contracts from this date. It will be illegal for businesses to propose, rely on or use unfair terms, with penalties for breaches. The changes also update the definition of ‘small business’ to include those with less than 100 employees or $10 million turnover.

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AU Energy Compliance

Misconduct in Public Organisations: Important Lessons for Businesses

On 9 August 2023, the Victorian Ombudsman published Misconduct in public organisations: A casebook. The casebook examines seven real-world cases of misconduct substantiated by the Ombudsman through investigations. While the cases specifically involve public sector entities, the issues explored, like conflicts of interest, financial mismanagement, and failure to foster a culture of integrity, apply equally to private businesses.

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AU Energy Compliance

Obtaining Explicit Informed Consent: A Compliance Guide for Energy Retailers

The Essential Services Commission’s Guideline 4 on explicit informed consent requirements under the Energy Retail Code of Practice is a very useful resource for energy sellers in Victoria. This article summarises the key steps energy sellers must follow to comply with their obligations to obtain explicit informed consent from customers.

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AU Energy Compliance

Energy Retailer under Scrutiny for Banned Door-to-Door Sales

Victoria’s energy regulator has accepted a court enforceable undertaking from retailer 1st Energy Pty Limited following allegations that the company violated the Statewide ban on door-to-door energy sales. The ban, which took effect in December 2021, prohibits unsolicited visits and cold calls by energy retailers and their representatives.

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AU Energy Compliance

Building a Compliance Culture: Why It Matters and How to Achieve It

A strong compliance culture is essential for any business to operate ethically and efficiently while avoiding legal and regulatory issues. A compliance culture means that compliance with laws, regulations, policies, and ethical standards becomes ingrained in the way a business and its employees think and behave. It ensures that compliance is not just a matter of checking boxes for mandatory training but is fully integrated into the organisation’s DNA.

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AU Energy Compliance

Environmental and sustainability claims: Draft guidance for business

The ACCC recently released draft guidance on environmental and sustainability claims to help businesses understand their obligations under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) and best practice when making such claims. The draft guidance aims to encourage truthful and accurate claims, decrease instances of ‘greenwashing’, and assist consumers in making informed choices.

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AU Energy Compliance

AER Draft Guidance including emission reductions in energy objectives

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has released draft guidance on how it proposes to implement the amended National Electricity Objective (NEO) and National Gas Objective (NGO) to include consideration of emission reductions. The amendments to the NEO, NGO and National Energy Retail Objective are expected to be passed by the South Australian parliament in September 2023.

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AU Energy Compliance

AER Releases Annual Compliance and Enforcement Report: Focus on Supporting Vulnerable Customers and Efficient Energy Markets

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) recently released its Annual Compliance and Enforcement Report for 2022–23, outlining its activities over the past year to monitor and enforce compliance with Australia’s national energy laws and rules. A key focus has been on supporting vulnerable customers, including those experiencing financial hardship. The AER has also acted to support the efficient operation of competitive energy markets through monitoring compliance of generators, gas pipelines and retailers.

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AU Energy Compliance

ACCC Insights on Electricity Bills and Affordability

The ACCC’s latest report on its Inquiry into the National Electricity Market provides unique insights into the electricity bills faced by customers across New South Wales, South Australia, South East Queensland, and Victoria. The ACCC’s findings demonstrate how different energy plans, tariffs and contracts can impact consumers’ bills.

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AU Energy Compliance

Key points from Executive Board Member Geoff Summerhayes’ speech to the Financial Services Assurance Forum- Lessons for Energy Sellers

Cyber threats are accelerating and evolving rapidly. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a surge in online activity and remote working, providing more opportunities for cyber criminals to attack. While there have been no major cyber breaches of banks, insurers or super funds yet, it is only a matter of time. Boards and internal audit functions often lack understanding and expertise in cyber security, leaving organisations vulnerable.

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Sydney Australia
AU Energy Compliance

Reminding Scheme Participants of Their Compliance Obligations

As participants in the NSW Energy Savings Scheme (ESS) and Peak Demand Reduction Scheme (PDRS), you have various obligations you must meet to comply with the schemes. This article provides an overview of the key compliance obligations and includes guidance and quotes directly from IPART’s Compliance Guide – Scheme Participants to remind you of what is required.

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AU Energy Compliance

Clare Savage Outlines AER’s Consumer Protection Priorities Through Australia’s Energy Transition

Australian Energy Regulator (AER) Chair Clare Savage recently outlined the regulator’s consumer protection priorities for 2023-2024 during her address at the 2023 Australian Energy Week conference. Savage acknowledged the challenging times facing the energy sector with the twin themes of the accelerating energy transition and increasing cost of living pressures affecting consumers.

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AU Energy Compliance

Managing the Transition: Balancing Competing Tensions

This is the first of a series of posts reflecting on Energy Week 2023. Daniel Westerman, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), recently delivered a speech at Australian Energy Week 2023 on the theme of managing the tensions inherent in Australia’s energy transition.

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electricity
AU Energy Compliance

Submission: Review into the arrangements for failed retailers’ electricity and gas contracts

Compliance Quarter has urged the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) to reconsider a proposal that would require all retailers to provide an ‘all assets’ security interest as a mechanism to increase the likelihood of cost recovery from failed retailers. In a submission to the AEMC’s review of the Retailer of Last Resort scheme, Compliance Quarter said that mandating such a security interest would likely increase financing costs for retailers and act as a barrier to new entrants in the market.

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AU Energy Compliance

Revisiting Financial Hardship Obligations in NECF

As interest rates continue to climb so too does the risk of electricity customers being placed in a position where they are not able to pay their bills on time. ‘Hardship’ can be experienced by anyone and everyone, whether you are working full time or rely on government support. Energy retailers in NECF have a range of obligations in relation to hardship and, as we move towards winter bills, should be reviewing their existing processes to ensure that they are providing the best support possible to those customers facing payment difficulties.

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AU Energy Compliance

Draft Decision Signals Stronger Consumer Protections for Small-Scale Energy Customers

Late last year, the Essential Services Commission of South Australia (Commission) released its Draft Decision on improving consumer protections for small-scale energy network customers. The decision applies in relation to small-scale energy networks regulated exclusively by the Commission. There are approximately 11,000 customers in these networks in remote and regional South Australia. The Commission’s final decision is likely to be made in the coming weeks.

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AU Energy Compliance

AER Prioritises Consumer Protection and Market Transparency

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) released its Compliance and Enforcement Priorities for 2023-24, outlining key focus areas for monitoring and enforcing compliance in Australia’s energy markets over the next year. The priorities aim to protect consumers, especially those experiencing vulnerability, enable competitive markets, and support efficient infrastructure.

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AU Energy Compliance

Billing Rules for Energy Retailers Operating in NECF

Energy retailers must follow strict rules when issuing bills to their customers. These rules aim to ensure customers receive accurate and understandable bills, while also receiving prompt and fair adjustments when billing errors occur.

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