The proposal to ban embedded networks in Victoria

The proposal to ban embedded networks in Victoria

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In October 2018, the Victorian Government announced an election commitment to ban embedded networks in new residential developments in Victoria. Since that time little has been publicly said about the proposed ban and, presumably, industry has lobbied the relevant ministers to highlight benefits of embedded networks and the impact of a ban on consumers and the industry. The election commitment was not forgotten however and the Victorian Government appointed an Expert Panel whose work consists of reviewing the options available as a policy response and advising the Government accordingly. The Victorian Government has also since opened up a consultation on the election promise - which they now say included appropriate 'exemptions for buildings that use renewable energy microgrids to deliver low-cost renewable energy to apartment buildings.' The consultation includes an…
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Victorian Embedded Networks: What’s the deal?

Victorian Embedded Networks: What’s the deal?

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On 28 October 2020, we presented a webinar on the Victorian embedded network regulatory regime and changes under consideration. The webinar was recorded and you can watch it on-demand here by registering at this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_G9mMl-BLQKmCohS27IBh1Q If you would like to learn more about embedded networks in Victoria, please get in touch.
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Retailer-initiated de-energisation of premises –small customers

Retailer-initiated de-energisation of premises –small customers

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Currently, retailers are not disconnecting small customers as the world faces COVID. This is largely as a result of the AER publishing a statement of expectations. You can read more about the AER's statement of expectations here. Today we are looking at the rules applicable to retailer de-energisations of small customers (specifically in NECF under Retail Rules, Part 6, Divisions 1 and 2, Rules 107(2) and 116(1)). We focus below on disconnection for non-payment and note that additional or different obligations apply to disconnection for other reasons (such as the disconnection of a move-in or carry over customer or for the illegal use of energy). Responsibility for compliance Energy retailers are responsible for compliance with the National Energy Retail Rules and the National Energy Retail Law. The Retail Law requires…
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iSelect’s $8.5 Million Fine

iSelect’s $8.5 Million Fine

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The Federal Court of Australia has ordered that iSelect pay $8.5 million in penalties for making false or misleading representations about its electricity comparison services. iSelect Limited admitted that between November 2006 and December 2018 it misled consumers by representing that it would compare all electricity plans offered by its partners and recommend the most suitable or competitive plan when this was not the case. The commercial agreements that iSelect Limited had in place with its partner electricity retailers restricted the number of electricity plans those retailers could upload onto the comparator system, and therefore the plans recommended to consumers were not necessarily the most suitable or competitive. “iSelect was not upfront with consumers that it wasn’t comparing all plans offered by its partner retailers. In fact, about 38 per…
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Remote disconnection and re-energisation in New South Wales

Remote disconnection and re-energisation in New South Wales

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The New South Wales Minister for Energy and Environment Matthew Kean MP has extended, by way of regulation, the prohibition on remote disconnection and re-energisation until 1 October 2020. The prior prohibition was to expire on 1 September 2020. You can view the regulation here: https://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/view/pdf/asmade/sl-2020-508 the short nature of the extension is notable and is probably a result of the New South Wales government being distracted by the coronavirus and not being in a position to fully consider whether or not remote disconnection and re-energisation should continue to be prohibited. We will continue to monitor this space and advise our clients accordingly.
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Victoria’s New Reform Package supporting consumers throughout the COVID pandemic

Victoria’s New Reform Package supporting consumers throughout the COVID pandemic

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The Essential Services Commission (Victoria) has published its final decision on ‘supporting energy customers throughout the coronavirus pandemic.’ The final decision includes an initial temporary package of reforms that will take effect from 1 October 2020 and will last for six months until 31 March 2021. The commission notes that it has the discretion to extend this timeframe if required and if in the long-term interests of Victorian consumers. The package of reforms is summarised below and interested parties can review the final decision here: https://www.esc.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/supporting-energy-customers-through-coronavirus-pandemic-final-decision-20200824.pdf Need for change The commission has been monitoring the consequences of coronavirus on energy consumers and this has led to the decision that additional reform is required: Based on the evidence available to us since the start of the pandemic, we consider there is…
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The basic ingredients of a successful compliance program

The basic ingredients of a successful compliance program

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We have been operating Compliance Quarter for over three years now and one of the key components of our service offering is the outsourced Compliance Manager role that we provide to several businesses operating in highly regulated industries. Providing the outsourced Compliance Manager role gives us the ability to benchmark businesses when it comes to compliance. The outsourced Compliance Manager role also helps us understand when a business is likely to face compliance issues into the future. When it comes to determining whether a business will or will not be compliant, there are some very basic metrics that determine success. What is a compliance culture? The most critical aspect of compliance is a compliant culture. What this means is that an organisation’s staff must value compliant and ethical conduct. Compliance…
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Retailer Obligations: End of Fixed Term Benefit

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When an energy retailer offers a fixed-term benefit it must follow a prescribed process prior to the expiry of that period to ensure that its customers are not taken by surprise by the end of the benefit period. What is a fixed benefit? A fixed benefit is a benefit or advantageous picture of a product that expires after a specific period of time. Examples given by the AER include the following:  15% guaranteed discount off usage charges for 12 months. At the end of 12 months, the customer’s discount will change to a 10% guaranteed discount. 15% off usage charges for 12 months, if a customer pays on time. At the end of 12 months, the customer will no longer receive a pay on time discount. 15% guaranteed discount off…
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New Rule from AEMC Allows Retailers to Defer Network Bills

New Rule from AEMC Allows Retailers to Defer Network Bills

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The Australian Energy Market Commission  (‘AEMC’) has just finalised a rule that will allow the majority of market energy retailers in Australia to defer network bills for 6 months. Here we explain this decision and what it means for retailers. The Problem for Retailers COVID-19, and the regulatory responses to it, has had a significant impact on energy retailers.  The usual collections processes used by electricity retailers have changed as those retailers have sought to act in a manner that is consistent with the AER's 10 Principles. One consequence of this, is that customer debt to retailers is increasing significantly. This has, in turn put cashflow pressure on retailers. AEMC’s Solution : Deferral of Network Bills Network charges are the amounts that retailers need to pay to their local distributors…
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FCA proceedings commenced by the ACCC against Sumo

FCA proceedings commenced by the ACCC against Sumo

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has commenced proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia alleging that Sumo Power Pty Ltd (Sumo) made false or misleading representations to Victorian consumers in relation to its electricity plans.The ACCC alleges that between June and November 2018, Sumo promoted 12-months electricity plans with large discounts including pay on time discounts of up to 43% while planning to substantially increase the charges applied to those customers within a few months, or knowing it was likely to do so.The ACCC claims that sumo caps that represented to consumers that it would maintain, or not materially increase those low rates and consumers would get the benefit of the pay on time discounts for a 12-month period. In November 2018, Sumo substantially increased the underlying rates…
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