The Australian Energy Market Commission will publish a consultation paper on May 28 on a proposal to allow electricity retailers to defer the payment of network charges in respect of customers whose ability to pay their electricity bill has been impacted by COVID-19.
The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) submitted the rule change request. It proposes to allow electricity retailers to defer the payment of network charges incurred between 1 July 2020 and 31 December 2020 for six months.
Under the proposed rule, retailers would only be eligible to defer these payments for customers whose ability to pay their electricity bill has been impacted by COVID-19. This would allow retailers to focus on the ongoing supply of energy and support for customers as they deal with the cash flow pressures arising as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The AER has requested that the proposal be treated as an urgent rule change under the National Electricity Law, meaning that the Commission would need to publish a final determination within eight weeks of initiation. The AER has asked the Commission to treat this as an urgent rule change to support the resilience of retailers adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigate risks of financial contagion in the national electricity market (NEM).
The AEMC intends to publish a consultation paper on the rule change request on 28 May. The consultation paper will propose to follow the expedited rule change process as an urgent rule change. Submissions on the consultation paper will be due by 25 June 2020. However, given the urgency of this matter, and the shorter timeframes under the expedited process, the Commission encourages stakeholders to submit their responses to the consultation paper as soon as possible after it is published. This will allow the Commission time to consider stakeholders views before publication of a final determination on 23 July 2020.
Media: Kellie Bisset, Media and Content Manager, 0438 490 041