Minutes of Energy Ministers’ Meetings could become publicly available following a recent decision on the status of National Cabinet

Minutes of Energy Ministers’ Meetings could become publicly available following a recent decision on the status of National Cabinet

AU Energy Compliance
A recent decision of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) will be welcomed by those in the energy industry seeking clarity on the nation’s changeable climate change and energy policy. The decision of Patrick and Secretary, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (Freedom of Information) [2021] AATA 271 (Patrick Decision) upheld a claim by Senator Rex Patrick to access certain National Cabinet documents under Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation. What is National Cabinet? The Prime Minister, along with the other State and Territory Ministers, established the National Cabinet on 13 March 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. In May 2020, the Prime Minister announced the abolition of the previous peak intergovernmental body - the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), saying: “COAG is no more. It will be replaced by a completely new…
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The use of Machine Learning in Compliance

The use of Machine Learning in Compliance

AU Energy Compliance, Financial Services
The regulatory environment is evolving at a lightning pace. As a result, compliance officers must also keep up. To meet this challenge, AI applications have become more capable, particularly in regards to providing answers that are easy to interpret. As you might imagine, using an AI-powered system to process this data would be incredibly valuable for companies in a variety of fields—from financial institutions to insurance companies to tech firms. In compliance, the goal is to ensure regulatory compliance by identifying, evaluating and responding to regulatory requirements. The work can be challenging; firms and individuals often work in an environment without sufficient information to effectively meet goals and objectives. As artificial intelligence and automation become more prevalent in the world, it’s imperative that firms continue to utilize compliance know-how in…
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New Round of Enforcement Actions

New Round of Enforcement Actions

AU Energy Compliance
A fresh round of enforcement actions have been announced by the Essential Services Commission of Victoria (ESC). Energy sellers should review the announcements made by the ESC and ensure that they have adequate controls in place to avoid the same issues. Explicit Informed Consent On 26 July 2021, the ESC has announced that Simply Energy had paid penalty notices totalling $2.5 million after being issued 125 penalty notices. The penalty notices were issued to Simply Energy after two external sales agents allegedly undertook deliberate fraud to transfer 525 gas and electricity accounts at 264 properties without any contact to obtain explicit informed consent. Energy retailers are required to obtain explicit informed consent before transferring a customer. We've looked at the requirements relating to explicit informed consent in detail here and…
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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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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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Compliance Reporting to the Australian Energy Regulator

Compliance Reporting to the Australian Energy Regulator

AU Energy Compliance
The Australian Energy Regulator's Compliance Procedures and Guidelines-Version 6 sets out the matter and form that retailers must submit compliance information and data to the AER. Retailers are required to submit information relating to their compliance with the National Energy Retail Law, National Energy Retail Rules, and National Energy Retail Regulations. Polices, systems and procedures The Retail Law requires that regulated entities establish and observe policies, systems, and procedures in accordance with the AER Compliance Procedures and Guidelines. Pursuant to the guideline, retailers must ensure that they are able to report accurately on their compliance in the manner and form required by the guidelines. Policies, systems and procedures must be established and operate in a manner and form consistent with the relevant Australian Standard AS/ISO 19600-Compliance Management Systems. One of…
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The Presentation of Electricity Retail Offers in NECF

The Presentation of Electricity Retail Offers in NECF

AU Energy Compliance
This article looks at the operation of the AER's Retail Pricing Information Guidelines (April 2018 - Version 5.0). The purpose of the Guideline is to provide guidance to retailers in the presentation of standing offer prices and market offer prices with the objective of assisting small customers in considering and comparing standing offer prices and market offer prices available. The genesis of the Guideline is section 61(1) of the National Energy Retail Law. Retailers looking to advertise or market offers may also need to consider the ACCC's Electricity Retail Code. The Retail Code is not considered in this article. The AER Pricing Guidelines refer to individual plans being plans that are available to a specific customer. The purpose of the Pricing Information Guideline is to enable a customer to compare…
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AER: The Final Statement of Expectations

AER: The Final Statement of Expectations

AU Energy Compliance
On 24 March 2021, the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) announced that it had extended its COVID-19 energy protections for a limited time. The AER's original Statement of Expectations was introduced at the start of the pandemic in March 2020. The Statement of Expectations has been updated a total of four times and applies to households and small businesses in Queensland, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, South Australia, and Tasmania. The Statement of Expectations sets out the expectations that the AER has with respect to how energy businesses deal with small business and residential customers who are potentially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The expectations include that all residential and small business customers who indicate that they may be in financial stress, be offered a payment plan or a hardship…
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