NT: Annual Compliance Monitoring Report 2021-22

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The NT Utilities Commission has published its Annual Compliance Monitoring Report for 2021-2022. The report examines compliance reports lodged by licensees and the Commission’s assessment of breaches reported by licensees.

During the 2021-2022 period, 13 licensees submitted compliance reports, including one report of both material and non-material breaches relating to life support under the Electricity Retail Supply Code.

The NT, as in NECF, has a self reporting obligation. The reporting obligations are set out in the Compliance Framework and Reporting Guidelines (Guidelines), which are available on the Commission’s website (https://utilicom.nt.gov.au/). The Guidelines require relevant licence holders to submit an annual
compliance report by 31 August each year.

Reported non-compliances are classified as either material or non-material breaches. All breaches must be reported but for material breaches there are additional reporting requirements. A breach will be material where:

  • the incident adversely affects customers (financially and/or service provision);
  • a significant number of customers are affected;
  • regulated entity’s ability to provide services is compromised; or
  • public health and safety is threatened.

A licensee is required to notify the Commission as soon as reasonably practicable after becoming aware that a material breach has occurred.

Recommendation: Ensure that there are processes in place to quickly classify whether a potential breach is material and if so to report to the Commission.

When licensee’s submit their annual report they are required to list legal instruments and other documents containing relevant obligations in Schedule A. The list must be regularly updated. The Commission notes ‘Failure to do so increases the risk of non-compliance. Deficiencies in a licensee’s Schedule A, combined with other factors, may also indicate to the Commission that the licensee does not sufficiently understand its obligations and/or have an appropriate compliance framework in place.’

Recommendation: Ensure that your business has an up to date regulatory obligations register.

The material breach reported was by Jacana Energy who in February advised the commission of the breach of cl 10 of the Energy Retail Supply Code with a customer who required life support equipment being disconnected despite advising of their need for life support equipment at the property. Clearly, this was a very serious and potentially deadly breach.

No harm was caused to the customer and electricity supply was quickly reconnected. On reviewing the incident, Jacana identified that another customer’s premises (who also required life support equipment) had come close to disconnection- but the disconnection did not proceed as the network provider had the premises as registered.

Jacana undertook a range of remedial action in response to the breach including appointing an independent party to complete an investigation, additional training and disciplinary action. In commenting on the breach the Commission stated: Jacana’s remedial actions in response to the breaches were appropriately targeted and timely.

Recommendation: Clearly, life support obligations are the most critical of all of the obligations in energy regulation, retailers should very carefully review their processes, systems and training in this area.

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