Market Review: Open
This review is developing a package of law and rule changes to strengthen protections and improve access to competitive retail offers for customers who purchase power from an embedded network provider instead of buying direct from electricity retailers. 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. They can include apartment buildings, shopping centres, retirement villages and caravan parks.
On 31 January 2019 the AEMC 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.
The draft recommendations in this review would 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)
Stakeholder submissions on the draft report were due by 14 March 2019 and can be found below.
The Commission recently held two workshops with stakeholders. The first to discuss the draft report in Sydney on 22 February 2019. Watch the audio webcast recording of the workshop. The second workshop was also held in Sydney on 6 May 2019. Stakeholders discussed the transition of legacy embedded networks to the new arrangements. Watch the audio webcast of the second workshop.
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.
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, and recommended new regulatory arrangements. To address these issues, the AEMC recommended new regulatory arrangements, as outlined in the 2017 review’s final report.