The AEMC today published a draft rule in response to a rule change request from the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) to strengthen protections for customers requiring life support equipment, for example a ventilator or kidney dialysis machine. 

There are already rules in place that limit when electricity distributors are able to interrupt supply to life support customers, for example to undertake planned maintenance. In these limited circumstances, customers must be given at least four business days written notice.

Customers are currently required to provide a medical certificate to be registered for the life support protections, although the AER acknowledges retailers and distributors register customers when they are advised by the customer, whether or not a medical certificate is provided.

The draft rule change formalises and strengthens the protection framework by clarifying that protections apply from the time customers first inform their retailer or distributor they require life support equipment. In addition, retailers and distributors would be required to provide information on the customer’s rights and obligations under the life support rules within five days of the initial contact.

The draft rule also requires retailers and distributors to follow a more clearly defined process for confirming a customer's eligibility for registration and for deregistering a customer when they move or no longer need life support equipment.

The AEMC is seeking stakeholder feedback on the draft rule. Submissions are due by 8 November 2017.