From today electricity consumers will have more choice, control and protection with the start of four new rules made by the AEMC. These rules:
- require retailers to provide at least five business days’ notice to customers before their energy prices change
- allow small customers to fix inaccurate estimated bills by providing their own reading of an electricity or gas meter to their retailer
- make retailers provide small customers with new or replacement electricity meters within set timeframes
- strengthen the protection frameworks for customers requiring life support equipment.
Each of these rules provide more choice, control and certainty for small energy customers, while making it clear to retailers that they need to do more to improve transparency and reduce the level of complexity in the way they do business.
Making energy retailers warn customers ahead of price changes
From today, retailers must warn customers at least five business days’ before their energy prices change. Retailers must also inform customers they can request their historical billing and energy use data. 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.
Reducing bill shock by allowing meter self reads
Under this new rule, retailers must let customers submit their own reading of their meter to calculate electricity or gas bills if a meter reader has been unable to carry out an actual read because of access problems like locked gates or a dog in the yard. The change will reduce the risk of customers being exposed to higher bills based on overestimated energy use, or having to repay significant sums due to previous bills based on underestimated energy use.
Making retailers meet new deadlines for installing electricity meters
Starting today, retailers will have to provide new smart meters by a date agreed with customers. If no timing is agreed, retailers must install new meters within six working days after a property has been connected to the network. If a customer wants to swap their old meter for a smart meter, retailers must make sure the new smart meter is installed within 15 business days of the request being made, unless another date is agreed with the customer.
Strengthening protections for customers needing life support equipment
New legal obligations on energy retailers and distributors come into force today to strengthen the protection framework for customers requiring life support equipment, for example a ventilator or kidney dialysis machine. The new rule clarifies that protections apply from the time customers first inform their retailer or distributor they require life support equipment. Also, retailers and distributors are required to follow a more clearly defined process for registering a customer as requiring life support protections and for removing a customer from the register when they move or no longer need life support equipment. These changes build on current rules that limit when retailers and distributors are able to disrupt supply to life support customers, for example to undertake planned maintenance, and place strict requirements on the amount of notice these customers must be given.
These new rules form part of the AEMC’s broader consumer action plan to give consumers more choices about energy products and services, more control over energy bills, and stronger protections.
Media: Bronwyn Rosser, Communications Specialist, 0423 280 341; (02) 8296 7847; email@example.com