Navigating the NERL: Disconnection Restrictions for Energy Retailers

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Disconnecting energy supply to a customer is a serious matter and should only be done in accordance with the relevant laws and regulations. In NECF and elsewhere, retailers must not arrange for the de-energisation of a customer’s premises to occur in certain circumstances. This article outlines when a retailer cannot disconnect a customer.

Restrictions on Disconnecting energy supply

A retailer must not arrange for the de-energisation of a customer’s premises to occur in the following circumstances:

  1. Where the premises are registered under Part 7 as having life support equipment;
  2. Where the customer has made a complaint, directly related to the reason for the proposed de-energisation, to the retailer under the retailer’s standard complaints and dispute resolution procedures, and the complaint remains unresolved;
  3. Where the customer has made a complaint, directly related to the reason for the proposed de-energisation, to the energy ombudsman, and the complaint remains unresolved;
  4. Where the customer has contacted the retailer under section 41(2)(a) of the Law and the issue raised by the customer remains unresolved;
  5. Where the customer is a hardship customer or residential customer and is adhering to a payment plan under rule 33 or 72;
  6. Where the customer informs the retailer, or the retailer is otherwise aware, that the customer has formally applied for assistance to an organisation responsible for a rebate, concession or relief available under any government funded energy charge rebate, concession or relief scheme and a decision on the application has not been made;
  7. On the ground that the customer has failed to pay an amount on a bill that relates to goods and services other than for the sale of energy;
  8. For non-payment of a bill where the amount outstanding is less than an amount approved by the AER and the customer has agreed with the retailer to repay that amount;
  9. Where the customer’s premises are to be de-energised under rule 111—during an extreme weather event; or
  10. During a protected period.

The restrictions in points 5, 6 and 7 do not apply if the reason for de-energisation was failure to provide access to a meter. The restrictions also do not apply if the customer has requested de-energisation, or (other than restriction 1) if the customer is engaging in fraudulent acquisition of energy or intentional consumption of energy otherwise than in accordance with the energy laws.

These restrictions apply to both standard retail contracts and market retail contracts.

Disconnection Fees

Retailers must name any fees relating to the disconnection or reconnection of a customer as ‘disconnection fees’ and ‘reconnection fees’ respectively. In the description of these fees, it must be clearly stated when the fee will be charged. For example, if a disconnection fee will be charged when the customer moves property, this must be clearly stated. This applies generally to small customers.

Prepayment Meter Market Retail Contracts

When offering or selling energy under prepayment meter market retail contracts, Authorised Retailers must ensure that the retailer’s management system is capable of identifying to the retailer every instance of a small customer’s self-disconnection and the duration of that self-disconnection. This applies to small customers who purchase energy under a prepayment meter market retail contract.

Conclusion

In summary, retailers must not arrange for the de-energisation of a customer’s premises to occur in certain circumstances. These restrictions apply to both standard retail contracts and market retail contracts. Retailers must name any fees relating to the disconnection or reconnection of a customer as ‘disconnection fees’ and ‘reconnection fees’ respectively. When offering or selling energy under prepayment meter market retail contracts, Authorised Retailers must ensure that the retailer’s management system is capable of identifying to the retailer every instance of a small customer’s self-disconnection and the duration of that self-disconnection.

Before looking to disconnect an energy customer, contact us to discuss the requirements. Note that this post is not a comprehensive list of applicable requirements.

References:

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