The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) today published a final rule that makes retailers give their electricity and gas customers advance notice of price changes.
Under the new rule, retailers must notify customers at least five business days before their energy prices change. Currently, price change notifications are provided up to three months after the change has taken effect.
AEMC Chief Executive, Anne Pearson, said the changes will help customers take control of their energy bills before price changes happen.
“Advance notice gives people more time to take action – like shopping around for a better deal, or accessing their usage data to work out how they can best manage the change in price,” said Mrs Pearson.
The rule requires retailers to provide clear and concise price change notices, delivered at least five business days before price changes come into effect. Notices must be sent by the customer’s preferred form of communication and include information on the energy tariffs and charges to apply both before and after the change.
“A notice period of at least five business days gives customers time to change their budgeting plans or electricity usage ahead of the next billing period if they want. They can also contact their existing retailer and negotiate a new retail plan to start right away,” Mrs Pearson said.
“Knowing a price change is coming soon can prompt customers to engage more confidently in the market, for example by contacting their retailer to secure the best offer available – or take their business elsewhere.”
The AEMC and AER are jointly recommending the COAG Energy Council approves a civil penalty provision to protect customers if retailers do not deliver the notices in time. Failure to meet the new obligations would result in fines of up to $100,000 for each incident.
Retailers will be exempt from sending a notice in a limited number of scenarios such as when a customer has already received notice of the price change due to the end of a benefit period, or where prices vary as a result of a change to a government-funded rebate or concession scheme.
The rule starts on 1 February 2019 to give retailers time to make changes to their systems.
This rule is the result of a rule change request from former Federal Energy Minister the Hon Josh Frydenberg MP and NSW Minister for Energy and Utilities the Hon Don Harwin MLC. It is part of the AEMC’s consumer protection action plan to help give consumers more control over their energy bills.
Where the new rules applies
The changes will be part of the National Energy Customer Framework (NECF) which applies in the ACT, Tasmania, South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland. The changes will not apply in Victoria as it has its own Energy Retail Code.
Queensland has a state law that requires retailers to notify customers on market offers at least ten business days in advance of price changes, which would still apply.
Also, the changes will not apply to customers in Tasmania, regional Queensland or the ACT who are on regulated electricity prices which are set by governments or regulators.
Media: Prudence Anderson, Communication Director, 0404 821 935 or (02) 8296 7817