Retailer Billing Rule Change

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The AEMC has released a consultation paper on the ‘Bill contents and billing requirements’ Rule Change Request made by the Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor earlier this year. In broad terms, the Minister’s proposal is to replace the prescriptive rules-based approach to regulating the content of customer bills with a principles-based approach. The idea is for the general principles proposed by the Minister to be captured by a guideline developed by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER).

Why the change?

The Federal Government is concerned that energy bills have become too complex and information heavy, resulting in poor customer experience. It has been suggested that while most retailers technically comply with the current prescriptive content requirements under Rule 25, their bills are not necessarily presented in a customer friendly way.

New approach

The proposed principles will ensure small customers can:

  • easily identify key information;
  • easily verify that the bill conforms to their retail contract;
  • easily verify how much energy they consume and how their bill is calculated;
  • confidently query or dispute bills; and
  • confidently navigate the market and seek the best offer.

The Minister has also requested that the AER consider providing guidance on delivery methods and timeframes when developing the guideline.

Despite the principles-based approach, it is important to note the any non-compliance with the proposed new rule (and by extension the Guideline) is to be a civil penalty provision.

Next steps

The AEMC has asked for feedback on the proposal by 22 October 2020. As the rule change was proposed by the Energy Minister, it is likely to be passed. However, any submissions might also be considered by the AER when developing the relevant guideline. If you would like help drafting a submission, please get in touch.

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