AER’s Annual compliance and enforcement report 2020-21

AER’s Annual compliance and enforcement report 2020-21

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A report published by the AER highlights the range of enforcement activities undertaken during 2020-21 and serves as a clear warning to energy retailers of the importance of ensuring compliance with the Rules and Laws. Source: AER's Annual compliance and enforcement report 2020-21 The AER has highlighted actions relating to failures by energy retailers in areas including wrongful disconnection, failure to provide life support protections to vulnerable customers, and failure to meet timeframes for installing and repairing meters used to calculate customers’ energy bills. Highlights from the report include energy businesses paying a total of $3.8 Million in civil penalties as part of resolutions to litigation commenced by the AER and a further $960,000 being paid in infringement notices for alleged breaches of the Laws. Source: AER's Annual compliance and…
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Is Victoria really banning Embedded Networks, or just Re-naming them?

Is Victoria really banning Embedded Networks, or just Re-naming them?

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In a recent article, we summarised the findings of the Expert Panel in the Victorian Embedded Networks Review Draft Recommendations Report (Report). The implementation of the Panel’s recommendations would see the end of ‘embedded networks’ by 2023. However, subject to certain conditions, ‘private networks’ will remain. Below, we highlight the key components of the Report for embedded network operators in Victoria. It is clear from the Report that embedded networks will not be ‘banned’, rather they will be re-named ‘private networks’ and subject to stricter regulation. Residential vs Commercial The Panel’s recommendations would apply to residential embedded networks only. The likely reason for this is that the election promise on which this review was based, referred only to embedded networks in residential apartment buildings. In respect of commercial or industrial…
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Energy Legislation Amendment (Energy Fairness) Bill 2021 – The Breakdown

Energy Legislation Amendment (Energy Fairness) Bill 2021 – The Breakdown

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#Victoria, #Exemptsellers The Energy Fairness Bill tabled in the Victorian Parliament in late May 2021 has been in development for almost three years. If passed, we will see the most significant changes to the Electricity Industry Act 2000 (Vic) (Act) since the introduction of Division 5A of Part 2 (small scale solar generation).  Below, we provide a breakdown of the key elements of the bill for energy retailers operating in Victoria - hint: these regulations will not align Victoria more closely with the National Energy Customer Framework (NECF). We also highlight some key areas of concern with respect to the legislative drafting which should be explored and addressed prior to implementation.   Imprisonment Despite what some have been led to believe, we are confident that no employee of a retailer will…
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Essential Services Commission consultation paper on variation to the 2021 default offer

Essential Services Commission consultation paper on variation to the 2021 default offer

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#Victorian #Embedded #Retailers On 14 May 2021, the Essential Services Commission of Victoria announced that it had kicked off its next review into the Victorian Default Offer (VDO) and that it was seeking feedback from consumers and the energy industry before issuing a decision later in the year. The Essential Services Commission has released its consultation paper on variation to the 2021 default offer. The Essential Services Commission notes that the variation is required to account for changes to network tariffs applying from 1 July 2021. The consultation paper itself notes that the VDO was introduced by the Victorian government to regulate standing offer prices for electricity in Victoria commencing on 1 July 2019. Standing offers are contracts that electricity retailers are obliged to make available to domestic and small…
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AER Approves Network Tariffs

AER Approves Network Tariffs

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#ExemptSuppliers, #AuthorisedRetailers On 14 May 2021, the Australian Energy Regulator announced that it had approved distribution tariffs for distributors in various states including New South Wales, South Australia, and Queensland. Electricity bills are made up of a number of components which include wholesale cost, retail margin, and network charges. The majority of a residential retail bill is made up of network charges and so, the AER's determination will have a material impact on the price paid by consumers for electricity. Queensland In the case of Queensland, the AER approved the 2021 to 2022 electricity distribution tariffs proposed by Energex and Ergon Energy in accordance with their relevant 2020 to 2025 distribution determinations. The determinations set revenues that those distributors can recover to reflect their cost of delivering electricity supply to…
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AGL’s Customer Hardship Audit

AGL’s Customer Hardship Audit

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On 7 May 2021 the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) released the results of the latest compliance audit under the National Energy Retail Law. AGL Energy Ltd carried out an audit to assess compliance with its hardship, payment plan and disconnection obligations for the period 1 January 2020 to 30 April 2020. With the exception of one instance of non- compliance, the audit found that AGL complied in all material respects with its hardship, payment plans, and disconnection obligations. AGL rectified the issue giving rise to the partial compliance by updating its retail systems. Hardship Obligations Part Two of the National Energy Retail Law and Parts Three and Six of the National Energy Retail Rules set out obligations that retailers have in relation to payment plans, hardship policies, debt recovery, and…
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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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