Virtual Power Plants: Reshaping Energy Markets and Empowering Consumers

Virtual Power Plants: Reshaping Energy Markets and Empowering Consumers

AU Energy Compliance, Consumer, NT Energy Compliance
The traditional electricity grid is undergoing a fundamental shift as distributed energy resources (DERs) like solar panels, batteries, and smart appliances proliferate. Virtual Power Plants (VPPs) are at the forefront of this transformation. A VPP is a cloud-based network that intelligently links DERs, allowing them to collectively function as a distributed power plant This can provide crucial grid services like frequency regulation and voltage support [1]. How Do VPPs Impact Customers? VPPs open up new possibilities for customers both on an individual basis and collectively. Potential Cost Savings: VPPs allow customers to earn payments for making their energy resources accessible during peak times. This reduces reliance on costly fossil-fuel 'peaker plants', potentially lowering overall electricity bills [2]. Resilience and Reliability: VPPs can dispatch backup power from DERs during outages, improving grid resilience for customers [2].…
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Understanding Part 3 of the National Energy Retail Rules: Customer Hardship

Understanding Part 3 of the National Energy Retail Rules: Customer Hardship

AU Energy Compliance, Consumer
Introduction The National Energy Retail Rules (NERR) are a set of rules that regulate the retail sale of electricity and gas to customers in those states that have adopted the national framework within the National Energy Market (NEM). The NERR aim to protect the interests of customers and promote efficient and competitive retail markets. The NERR cover various aspects of the retail relationship, such as contracts, billing, payment, disconnection, connection, metering and customer information. One of the key components of the NERR is Part 3, which deals with customer hardship. Customer hardship refers to the situation where a customer is unable to pay their energy bills due to financial difficulties, such as unemployment, illness, family breakdown or other unforeseen circumstances. Customer hardship can affect anyone, regardless of their income, location…
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The Electricity Invoice Rubik’s Cube

The Electricity Invoice Rubik’s Cube

AU Energy Compliance, Consumer
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 readers with varying levels of energy understanding, literacy, disabilities, and language proficiency, 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. The space that is available on an energy invoice is limited, it has always been challenging for retailers to present a simple invoice that not only explains what is payable but…
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Environmental and sustainability claims: Draft guidance for business

Environmental and sustainability claims: Draft guidance for business

AU Energy Compliance, Consumer, NT Energy Compliance
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. Principles The ACCC identified eight key principles for businesses to follow when making environmental and sustainability claims: Make accurate and truthful claims: All claims should be factually correct. Even if literally true, they should not create an misleading overall impression. Have evidence to back up your claims: Businesses should ensure they have clear evidence to substantiate any claims made, with independent, scientific evidence being the most credible. As stated in the guidance, “Making the research, evidence, or data that…
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Revisiting Financial Hardship Obligations in NECF

Revisiting Financial Hardship Obligations in NECF

AU Energy Compliance, Consumer
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. Under the National Energy Retail Rules (NERR), energy retailers in Australia have obligations to support customers experiencing payment difficulties or hardship. Part 3 of the NERR outlines specific requirements for retailers to identify, assist and protect hardship customers. Retailers…
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Navigating the ACCC’s 2023-24 Priorities: A Guide for Businesses in the Evolving Regulatory Landscape

Navigating the ACCC’s 2023-24 Priorities: A Guide for Businesses in the Evolving Regulatory Landscape

Consumer
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has released its compliance and enforcement policy and priorities for 2023-24, focusing on areas such as environmental claims, digital economy, essential services, and consumer product safety. In his address at the annual Committee for Economic Development Australia (CEDA), ACCC Chair Rod Sims said: "“Consumers are facing a growing number of manipulative techniques to exploit or pressure them, and other practices that seek to distort or disregard their consumer choice in the digital economy." Key take always and areas of focus for the ACCC over 2023-2024 include: Increased scrutiny on environmental claims and sustainability, affecting businesses making such claims in their marketing and advertising. Support for the implementation of the National Anti-Scam Centre, impacting businesses involved in scam detection and disruption. Focus on manipulative…
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Spot the difference: Legal vs Compliance

Spot the difference: Legal vs Compliance

AU Energy Compliance, Building and Construction, Consumer, Financial Services, NZ Energy Compliance
Many large businesses have both in-house legal teams and compliance teams. What is the difference between the two and how do you know if you need a legal or a compliance professional? The role of an in-house legal team Of the two, the role of an in-house lawyer is probably more easily defined. Their role involves managing legal risk and providing legal services that support business growth. On a day-to-day basis, this includes reviewing contracts, interpreting the law, managing disputes and litigation, managing employment law matters, and providing legal advice on areas such as privacy law. In-house legal teams are staffed by qualified lawyers and are typically supported by external law firms engaged on panels. Having an in-house lawyer can be a very good investment for a business seeking to…
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Are You putting Your Business at Risk with inadequate Compliance Controls?

Are You putting Your Business at Risk with inadequate Compliance Controls?

AU Energy Compliance, Building and Construction, Consumer, Financial Services, NZ Energy Compliance
History is littered with spectacular compliance failures; from Eron to WorldCom and the shocking findings of Australia's recent Banking Royal Commission. And yet, we can expect more compliance failures to come. Which begs the two questions- why is that and what can be done about it? In reality, compliance is often seen as an afterthought by business leaders and founders. While founders want to grow innovative and successful businesses, the truth is that a founder’s first priority should be not just building a great company, but on building a great company that can last. Compliance is Critical to the Longevity of a Business While regulation and compliance don't exactly scream "sexy," they are crucial to the longevity of a business [for an interesting article on how to make compliance more…
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The new rule proposal for exempt gas sellers

AU Energy Compliance, Consumer
The new rule proposal for exempt gas sellers A consultation paper was released last week by the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) on a proposal that exempt gas sellers in east and south-east coast states be allowed to purchase gas directly from the Australian Energy Market Operator’s ‘Gas Retail Markets’. These markets are the equivalent of the National Electricity Market for gas retailers. We describe the proposal below and offer our take on it. Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash By Dr Andrew Donnelly, Compliance Quarter. 1. Two Frameworks for Gas As with electricity, there are two distinct regulatory frameworks for gas sellers in the eastern and south-eastern states: • The National Energy Customer Framework (NECF) administered by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER). It is focused on customer protections and captured primarily in the…
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Webinar – Two New Codes for Banking and Lending

Consumer, Financial Services
In our recent webinar focusing on the finance industry, regulatory specialist Dr Drew Donnelly consider two new codes for banking and lending. This year has seen the finalisation of two distinct codes covering lending and banking businesses in Australia: The Banking Code of Conduct 2019 (Banking Code) and the Code of Lending Practice: AFIA Online Small Business Lenders (Lending Code). This webinar forms part of our series looking at the role of fintech, financial services, and the regulatory and compliance environments that surround them. If you would like to know more about our work supporting companies in the fintech and financial services sector, please contact us by clicking here. Below you can view a full transcription of the webinar along with the video. Recent Developments in Banking & Fintech Open…
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