Market Review: Open
The AEMC has published a draft report that proposes a draft package of law and rule changes to update the regulatory frameworks for embedded networks. If implemented, the draft proposal will result in better protections and access to more competitive retail offers for consumers in embedded networks.
Embedded networks are private electricity distribution networks that serve multiple customers and are connected to another distribution or transmission system in the national grid through a parent connection point.
Prompted by the significant uptake of embedded networks in recent years and concerns in relation to poor consumer experiences, the Commission assessed the current regulatory arrangements through its 2017 Review of regulatory arrangements for embedded networks. We identified a number of issues in relation to accessing retail market competition, consumer protections and monitoring and enforcement regimes. To address these issues, the AEMC recommended new regulatory arrangements, as outlined in the 2017 review’s Final report.
Implementing these recommendations will require a package of law and rule changes, which is the focus of this current review. The draft recommendations in this review will give customers in embedded networks:
- improved consumer protections in areas such as disconnections, billing information, payment options and notification of planned outages
- new protections for the first time including access to customer hardship programs and continuity of supply in the event of retailer failure
- stronger regulation which enhances the ability of the Australian Energy Regulator to enforce compliance with obligations to provide protections
- access to competitively priced market offers by making it possible for them to choose their retailer and requiring better industry financial and data transfer processes to help more retailers compete in embedded networks
- market-compliant meters that are registered with AEMO so it’s easier for customers to switch retailer and get better information about their usage and bills
- the same rights as grid-connected customers when upgrading their connections eg when installing electric vehicle charging stations within apartment blocks
- improved access to state government services such as concession schemes and emergency financial assistance, provide access to independent dispute resolution, and introduce reliability protections (these changes are recommended to state and territory governments)
Stakeholders are invited to submit their comments on the draft report by 14 March 2018. The Commission also plans to hold a workshop to discuss the report with stakeholders, and may undertake further consultation through short papers or roundtables on particular issues.
The Commission is concurrently undertaking a review of the regulatory framework for stand-alone power systems, which will consider a number of related issues, particularly with regards to consumer protections.
Both reviews are part of the AEMC’s consumer action plan to give consumers more choices about energy products and services; more control over energy bills; and stronger protections.
The Commission plans to publish a final report by mid-2019.View less