Market Review: Open

Overview

In the AEMC’s 2019 Retail energy competition review final report the Commission mapped the consumer protections that energy consumers in the national electricity market currently receive under the National Energy Customer Framework (NECF) and the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).
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In the AEMC’s 2019 Retail energy competition review final report the Commission mapped the consumer protections that energy consumers in the national electricity market currently receive under the National Energy Customer Framework (NECF) and the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). 

This was the first step in assessing whether energy consumers are receiving appropriate protections, and barriers to innovation are minimised. The Commission concluded that the NECF generally complemented the ACL in protecting energy consumers from harm. 

However, the Commission noted the need for further analysis in two areas: 

  • Consumer protections related to new energy products and services. Consumers are benefiting from product innovation, new technologies (such as batteries) and a range of new business models and suppliers. However, as the NECF relates specifically to the sale of energy by authorised retailers, there is a need to assess if, or what, consumer protections should apply to these new services and products and suppliers
  • The impact of digitalisation on regulatory provisions under the NECF for the traditional sale of energy. The provisions in the NECF related to giving consumers information about their energy data, contract, and price changes may need to be more flexible to account for digital technologies, so communication between retailers and customers can evolve in the most useful way for consumers. Also, digital technologies such as smart meters can make it easier for customers to switch retailers, which means that current requirements under the NECF for cooling-off periods and explicit informed consent may need changes to support consumers in their decisions and facilitate innovation. 

Issues papers

On 12 December 2019 the Commission published two issues papers to seek stakeholder views on the consumer protections issues papers.

Issues Paper 1 is focused on consumer protections in relation to new energy products and services.

Please note that an updated version of Issues Paper 1 was published on 13 December 2019. Due to a technical error, a previous version of the paper was published that did not accurately reflect the extension to the time for making a final determination and final rule for the Wholesale demand response mechanism rule change request.

Issues Paper 2 is focused on the impact of digitalisation on consumer protections in relation to the traditional sale of energy. 

Submissions are due by 13 February 2020.

Stakeholder consultation workshop 

The AEMC held a public workshop on 6 February 2020. The discussion notes are below.

This work is part of the AEMC’s 2020 Retail energy competition review. A final report on our analysis of the consumer protections framework for energy markets will be published along with the annual retail competition review report in June 2020.
 

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