Consumer priorities forum
The AEMC engages with consumers through various channels. This includes:
- engaging on future trends and opportunities through the Consumer Priorities Forums
- regular updates on our workstreams through our proposed new biannual Consumer Focused Newsletter, and
- ongoing project-specific consultation with consumer stakeholders.
Consumer Priorities Forum
Since 2014, the AEMC has regularly held Consumer Priorities Forums with consumer advocates, Ombudsmen, small business representatives, and other stakeholders to inform our work program.
The purpose of these forums is to maintain regular communication channels between Commissioners and consumer stakeholders to help shape the AEMC’s consumer workstreams and ensure we are targeting consumer priorities.
Past meeting agendas can be found here:
Consumer Focused Newsletter
The AEMC is considering a consumer-focused wrap-up as part of our weekly newsletter to communicate updates and opportunities for engagement in the AEMC’s consumer workstreams.
The first consumer-focused wrap-up is targeted for July 2023.
Snapshot of AEMC’s work program
Some of our past and present consumer workstreams are highlighted below. They have been grouped according to the four consumer priorities we have identified through engaging with consumers:
- Realising the benefits of retail competition for all consumers in terms of price, choice, quality, and innovation, whether consumers engage actively or not. AEMC workstreams include:
- Review of the regulatory framework for metering services: this review aims to improve the efficiency and speed at which smart meters are deployed to enable a more connected and modern energy system that supports future technologies, services, and innovation for consumers to access a more efficient and lower-cost energy system.
- Review into the arrangements for failed energy retailers’ contracts: the AEMC is progressing a review into the arrangements for electricity and gas contracts of failed retailers following the recent failure of several retailer from May 2022. It examines how the regulatory framework may be improved to manage the risks and costs with retailer failures.
- Supporting the AER’s energy price comparison website: the AEMC has supported the AER’s upgrade of its Energy Made Easy website which includes an energy price comparison feature for residential and small business customers.
- ESB Data Strategy: the AEMC is an active member of the ESB Data Strategy which has been developed collaboratively by a working group across the energy market bodies and the Australian Government to improve the governance approach to building data capabilities and digital technologies which are essential to keeping the system secure and making sure customers can access reduced energy bills, more innovative products, and more choices.
- Needs of vulnerable consumers being recognised with a deeper understanding of the drivers of vulnerability for small businesses and residential customers. AEMC workstreams include:
- Protecting customers affected by family violence rule change: the AEMC completed a rule change in September 2022 to better protect customers affected by family violence through measures such as requiring retailers to publish a family violence policy, refrain from disclosing an affected customer’s personal information without consent, and recognising family violence as a cause of payment difficulty.
- Strengthening protections for customers in hardship rule change: this rule was made in November 2018 to help customers having trouble paying their bills due to hardship by requiring the AER to develop Hardship Guidelines including consistent and specific statements that retailers must have in their hardship policies.
- Maintaining life support customer registration when switching rule change: this rule was made in February 2021 to reduce barriers for life support customers who switch retailers or move premises by enabling customers to reuse a previously submitted medical confirmation document.
- Updating the regulatory frameworks for embedded networks review: the AEMC completed a 2017 review and 2019 final report that proposed a package of law and rule changes to update the regulatory frameworks for embedded networks to improve consumer protections and access to more competitive retail offers. The AEMC has a new position and has appeared at the SA and NSW parliamentary inquiry public hearings on the regulatory framework for embedded networks. The AEMC is working with market bodies and jurisdictions to improve access to retail competition for customers living in embedded networks.
- Benefits from new energy products and services being maximised to expand options for consumers from solely energy users to producers, storers, and managers of energy. AEMC workstreams include:
- Unlocking CER benefits through flexible trading arrangements rule change: we are progressing a rule change request which proposes a method for consumers to engage different retailers or energy service providers to manage different devices om their home, e.g. having an electric vehicle charger contracted to a different retailer than their primary retailer.
- Access, pricing and incentive arrangements for DER rule change: this rule change, made in August 2021, sets clearer obligations on distribution businesses to support DER uptake, enabling them to offer a range of options to encourage solar owners to limit solar waste, save money and benefit the grid while strengthening consumer protections and regulatory oversight by the AER.
- ESB CER implementation work program: the AEMC is an active member of the ESB Consumer Energy Resources Implementation Plan which intends to provide clarity on the National Cabinet’s decision to deliver the DER Implementation Plan.
- Review into CER technical standards: the AEMC is currently progressing a review focused on the implementation of CER technical standards which complements the ESB’s CER Implementation Plan.
- Integrating broader consumer context in the AEMC’s rule changes and advice to ensure that the implications for consumers are always taken into account in decision-making. AEMC workstreams include:
- Consumer priorities forums: these forums are intended for consumer stakeholders to have direct access to Commissioners and discuss consumer priorities outside of standard project-specific consultation which will help inform the AEMC’s consumer workstream priorities.
- Decision-making framework: we have revised our decision-making framework used across all rule changes, reviews and other workstreams which now includes greater consideration of outcomes for consumers and aligning all decisions with current consumer needs.
The AEMC engages on project-specific consultation with consumer stakeholders on a regular basis. Please use this link to lodge a submission to a rule change or review.