How to comply with the life support equipment registration rules

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Introduction

If you are a retailer selling energy to customers who require life support equipment, you need to be aware of your obligations under the National Energy Retail Rules (NERR). Life support equipment is any equipment that is needed to sustain or support the life of a person, such as oxygen concentrators, kidney dialysis machines, ventilators, and so on.  The NERR provides a definition of life support equipment.

Customers who rely on such equipment are entitled to certain protections under the NERR, such as advance notice of planned interruptions, emergency contact numbers, and exemption from de-energisation. To provide these protections, you need to register the customer’s premises as requiring life support equipment and keep your registration details up to date. You also need to obtain medical confirmation from the customer to verify their need for life support equipment. Failing to comply with these rules can expose you to civil penalties and reputational risks and, most importantly, can place your customers at risk.

How to register a customer’s premises

The process of registering a customer’s premises as requiring life support equipment depends on whether you are notified by the customer or the distributor. If you are advised by the customer that a person residing or intending to reside at their premises requires life support equipment, you must:

  • register the premises and the date from which the life support equipment is required (NERR rule 124(1)(a));
  • provide the customer with a medical confirmation form and information about the registration process and the protections under the NERR (NERR rule 124(1)(b)); and
  • notify the distributor of the premises and the date from which the life support equipment is required (NERR rule 124(1)(c)).

However, you do not need to provide the medical confirmation form and information, or notify the distributor, if the customer has already done so and you have confirmed this with the distributor (NERR rule 124(2)).

If you are notified by the distributor that a person residing or intending to reside at the customer’s premises requires life support equipment, you must:

  • register the premises and the date from which the life support equipment is required (NERR rule 124(3)); and
  • provide the customer with information about the retailer planned interruptions and the emergency contact numbers, if not already provided by you (NERR rule 124B(2)(b)).

How to obtain medical confirmation

Medical confirmation is a signed and dated certification from a registered medical practitioner that a person requires life support equipment, including details of the type of equipment required. It can take the form of a medical certificate or a section completed by a medical practitioner within a medical confirmation form. You need to obtain medical confirmation from the customer to verify their need for life support equipment and to maintain their registration. If the customer fails to provide medical confirmation, you may deregister their premises and cease to provide them with the protections under the NERR.

To obtain medical confirmation, you need to follow these steps:

  • provide the customer with a medical confirmation form that requests the property address, the date from which the customer requires supply of energy for the life support equipment, and the medical confirmation (NERR rule 124(6));
  • give the customer a minimum of 50 business days to provide medical confirmation from the date of the medical confirmation form (NERR rule 124A(1)(a));
  • provide the customer with at least two written reminder notices to provide medical confirmation, with at least 15 business days between each notice (NERR rule 124A(1)(b)-(d));
  • on request from the customer, give the customer at least one extension of time to provide medical confirmation, with a minimum of 25 business days (NERR rule 124A(1)(e)); and
  • accept any medical confirmation that has been signed and dated no more than 4 years before the date of receipt of the advice from the customer, and is legible (NERR rule 124(1)(b)(viii)).

How to deregister a customer’s premises

You may only deregister a customer’s premises in the circumstances permitted under the NERR. These include:

  • the customer fails to provide medical confirmation after you have complied with the requirements under NERR rule 124A and taken reasonable steps to contact the customer (NERR rule 125(4));
  • the customer advises you that the person for whom the life support equipment is required has vacated the premises or no longer requires the life support equipment, and you have provided written notification to the customer of the deregistration date and the customer has not contacted you to advise otherwise (NERR rule 125(9)); or
  • the distributor notifies you that the distributor has deregistered the customer’s premises for either of the above reasons (NERR rule 125(8)).

If you deregister a customer’s premises, you must notify the distributor of the date and reason for deregistration within 5 business days (NERR rule 125(2)(a)). You must also update your registration details accordingly (NERR rule 126(b)).

How to keep your registration and medical confirmation details up to date

You must establish policies, systems and procedures for registering and deregistering a customer’s premises as requiring life support equipment to facilitate compliance with the requirements in this Part (NERR rule 126(a)). You must also ensure that your registration and deregistration details are kept up to date, including the date when the customer requires supply of energy for the life support equipment, when medical confirmation was received, when the premises was deregistered and why, and a record of communications with the customer (NERR rule 126(b)). You must also keep a copy of the medical confirmation for the period of time the person remains your customer for the registered premises, and for 110 business days after the person ceases to be your customer for the registered premises (NERR rule 126A).

How to comply with your ongoing obligations

Once you have registered a customer’s premises as requiring life support equipment, you have the following ongoing obligations:

  • give the distributor relevant information about the life support equipment requirements for the customer’s premises and any relevant contact details, unless the relevant information was provided to you by the distributor (NERR rule 124B(1)(a));
  • when advised by the customer or distributor of any updates to the life support equipment requirements or contact details, update your registration (NERR rule 124B(1)(b));
  • except in the case of a retailer planned interruption, not arrange for the de-energisation of the premises from the date the life support equipment is required (NERR rule 124B(1)(c)); and
  • in the case of a retailer planned interruption, give the customer at least 4 business days written notice of the interruption, or written notice of the expected time and duration of the interruption if the customer has consented to a shorter notice period (NERR rule 124B(1)(d)-(e)).

The above is not intended to be comprehensive and it is critical that energy sellers consult the NERR and obtain professional advice on their obligations.

How to contact Compliance Quarter for a review of your registration processes and systems

Compliance Quarter is a specialist consultancy that can help you comply with the life support equipment registration rules and other regulatory obligations. We can assist you with:

  • reviewing and improving your policies, systems and procedures for registering and deregistering a customer’s premises as requiring life support equipment;
  • providing training and guidance to your staff on how to handle customer enquiries and requests regarding life support equipment;
  • auditing and monitoring your compliance with the life support equipment registration rules and other relevant rules;
  • advising you on how to respond to any breaches or complaints relating to life support equipment registration; and
  • representing you in any disputes or investigations involving life support equipment registration.

If you are interested in engaging our services, please contact us at info@compliancequarter.com.au. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you achieve compliance excellence.

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