Review of the AER’s Network and Retail Exemption Guidelines

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On 18 May 2021, the Australian Energy Regulator published a consultation paper concerning a review of the AER’s (Retail) Exempt Selling Guideline and Electricity Network Service Provider – Registration Exemption Guidelines. The consultation paper was published as a result of the review commenced in February 2021 into each of those respective guidelines.

The stated objectives of the AER’s review include to improve the clarity and readability of exemption requirements, to streamline the Network Exemption Guideline and to remove redundancies, to clarify concepts such as own, control, and operate, to introduce new standardised statements where information requirements need to be met, and to improve consistency between the two guidelines.

Clearly, this review being conducted by the Australian Energy Regulator is of significant importance to all exempt and authorised retailers operating within embedded networks in those jurisdictions that have adopted the National Energy Customer Framework and, in the case of Victoria, for those entities that are covered by the Network Service Provider Registration Exemption Guideline.

We will review the consultation paper in more detail in future posts, but for now note that the consultation process is seeking submissions from interested stakeholders by 30 June 2021. You can access the AER’s consultation paper at the following link: https://www.aer.gov.au/networks-pipelines/guidelines-schemes-models-reviews/network-service-provider-registration-exemption-guideline-review-2021

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Submission to the AER’s Network and Retail Exemption Guidelines Review

We’ve submitted that the AER should consider implementing a ‘fast track approval’ process for the approval of proposed retrofit conversions of sites where the resulting embedded network would clearly bring consumers better pricing and where the configuration of the network infrastructure facilitates consumers who wish to ‘opt-out.’

As energy sellers know, the regulatory framework is partly designed to set the minimum standards of conduct expected and to punish those that are non-compliant. We believe that it is time that incentives were built into the regulatory framework. Where energy sellers develop products or services that have a clear consumer benefit, they should be rewarded by, for example, faster approvals. Faster approvals result in better commercial outcomes for energy sellers and those should be tied to consumer benefits.

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