The sale and supply of electricity and gas in South Australia is regulated through the National Energy Customer Framework (NECF), which is implemented under the following legislation:
- National Energy Retail Rules
- National Energy Retail Law (South Australia) Act 2011
- National Energy Retail Law (Local Provisions) Regulations 2013
- National Energy Retail Regulations.
The NECF deals primarily with:
- rights and responsibilities of distributors, retailers and consumers
- consumer protection measures
- authorisation of retailers
- compliance enforcement, monitoring and reporting, and performance reporting.
The NECF applies to:
- all energy distributors and retailers operating in South Australia, except those not connected to the national energy networks
- all South Australian retail energy consumers who are connected to the national energy networks and who consume less than 160MWh of electricity and/or 1TJ of gas annually (most homes and many small businesses consume less energy than these amounts).
Energy market regulation – who does what?
The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has the primary responsibility for regulating energy retailers under the NECF. As part of this role, the AER determines the maximum amount of revenue that transmission and distribution network businesses can earn over a set amount of time (usually five years). As part of the process to determine the revenue amount, the AER consults with key stakeholders and South Australian consumers – consultation meetings are listed on their website.
The AER has a Consumer Challenge Panel that helps them make better regulatory decisions by providing input on issues of importance to consumers.
The AER has also developed Energy Made Easy, which is a comparison service that helps consumers get the best energy deal for their needs.
The Essential Services Commission of South Australia is responsible for:
- regulating the Retailer Energy Efficiency Scheme
- determining a minimum retailer feed-in tariff for solar PV systems
- issuing an annual report on energy retail prices
- applicable electricity and gas codes.
The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) is responsible for making the National Energy Retail Rules. The AEMC is required to consult with consumers when they are making new rules or reviewing existing rules – any reviews currently underway are listed on their website.
The Energy and Water Ombudsman SA helps to resolve complaints and disputes between energy consumers and retailers and/or distributors.
The Government of South Australia works with the above organisations and consumers to develop energy policy in our state. Any topics open for consumer consultation are available via the YourSAy website.
South Australian NECF implementation
National Energy Retail Law (South Australia) Act 2011
The National Energy Retail Law (South Australia) Act 2011 includes necessary modifications to the way the National Electricity Law and National Gas Law apply in South Australia, due to the NECF.
Due to the deregulation of retail energy prices in South Australia, sections 18, 21, 28(2)(a), 35(5), 35(8), 37(5) and 37(8) of the National Energy Retail Law (South Australia) Act 2011, have been suspended (see from page 171 of the South Australian Government Gazette – No. 8, 31 January 2013).
The key provisions of South Australia's application of the National Energy Retail Law in the National Energy Retail Law (South Australia) Act 2011 are:
- in relation to electricity, the National Energy Retail Law only applies to electricity supplied via the interconnected national electricity system within the meaning of the National Electricity Law
- a retailer may impose a fee for late payment of a bill, as long as the fee does not exceed the reasonable cost for the retailer to recover an overdue amount and that the customer does not have an open complaint in relation to their bill.
National Energy Retail Law (Local Provisions) Regulations 2013
The key provisions of the National Energy Retail Law (Local Provisions) Regulations 2013 are:
- Regulation 5 prescribes 160MWh per annum as the upper consumption threshold for electricity for determining whether a business customer is large or small.
- Regulation 6 nominates AGL South Australia (electricity) and Origin Energy Retail (gas) as local area retailers for all small customers in South Australia pursuant to section 11 of the National Energy Retail Law.
- Regulation 7 imposes the service standards that retailers must use their best endeavours to meet when responding to written and telephone enquiries from small customers.
- Regulation 8 declares what is considered as an extreme weather event, for the purposes of Part 6 of the National Energy Retail Rules.
- Regulation 9 prescribes the timeframes retailers must adhere to when arranging to reconnect premises that have been disconnected for non-payment of bills.
- Regulation 11 permits the use of prepayment meter systems in South Australia, as required by section 56(2) of the National Energy Retail Law.
The regulations also amend the national rules as follows:
|National Energy Retail Rules||Modification|
|Rules 16(2)(b)||Strike out ", unless the customer is a small market offer customer"|
|Rule 90||After subrule (3) insert:
(4) A distributor of electricity is not required to comply with this rule if the duration of the interruption is less that 15 minutes.
(5) Subrule (4) will expire on 30 June 2015.
|Schedule 3, clause 8||After paragraph (c) insert:
(d) We are also entitled to limit our liability for an act of omission done or made in bad faith or through negligence to $500,000 (indexed) in respect of claims by customers who purchase less that 30 MWh of electricity per annum or to $1,000,000 (indexed) in respect of customers who purchase at least 30 MWh of electricity per annum.
|Schedule 2, clause 10.2||After paragraph (b) insert:
(c) We are not required to give you notice if the planned interruption is less than 15 minutes.
|National Gas Rules||Modification|
|Part 21||The National Gas Rules, insofar as they have effect as part of the law of South Australia, are modified so that Part 21 of those Rules does not apply in relation to any distributor or retailer in South Australia until 1 July 2013.|
South Australian energy provisions applicable to retailers
While most of the regulation for energy retailers is under the National Energy Retail Law, some local provisions apply to retailers operating in South Australia as part of the:
- Electricity Act 1996
- Electricity (General) Regulations 2012
- National Gas (South Australia) Act 2008
- Gas Regulations 2012.
Due to the deregulation of retail energy prices in South Australia, sections 13(1) and 30(1) of the Electricity Act 1996, have been suspended (see the South Australian Government Gazette – No. 8, 31 January 2013).
The new Part 6A of the Electricity Act 1996 details the obligations on National Energy Retail Law retailers, including participating in the ombudsman scheme, complying with the customer concessions scheme, and paying an annual administration fee.
The regulations include:
- a requirement on retailers to offer a market retail contract to small customers, which does not charge a fee for early termination, either directly or indirectly
- a requirement on retailers to abide by clause 8.2 of the Electricity Pricing Order, which relates to South Australia’s country equalisation scheme suspended (see the South Australian Government Gazette – No. 137, 5 December 2002).
The new Part 5A of the Gas Act 1997 details the obligations on National Energy Retail Law retailers, including participating in the ombudsman scheme, complying with the customer concessions scheme, and paying an annual administration fee.
The regulations include a requirement on retailers to offer a market retail contract to small customers, which does not charge a fee for early termination, either directly or indirectly.
For more information
Visit the COAG Energy Council website for more information about the development and implementation of the NECF in South Australia.