Most of the information requirements are related to pricing and are included as contractual requirements in the Contract Terms page. In addition, the National Energy Customer Framework (NECF) contains other requirements related to consumer information requests, general information for the supply of energy, and notification for new meter deployments and energy interruptions. Under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) there are no equivalent consumer protections to these information requirements under the NECF. Figure 1.3 below summarises these additional information requirements.



Figure 1.3: Information requirements

Source: National Energy Retail Law (NERL) and National Energy Retail Rules (NERR)

Retailers and distributors have the obligation to provide information in accordance with the NECF. In general, the following are additional information requirements applicable to retail contracts including the following:

  1. Historical billing data request: under the NECF, an energy customer can request historical billing data (for the previous two years) from their retailer and distributor. Both the retailer and distributor have an obligation to provide the data without charge. If the customer has requested this information an earlier period or more than 4 times in the past 12 months for electricity or once in the previous 12 months for gas, the retailer or distributor may charge a reasonable amount. The NECF also provides that this energy information must be provided in the manner and form required under the metering data provision procedures. 
  2. Bill review: a retailer must review a bill if requested by a small customer. In reviewing the bill the small customer may request a meter reading or metering data be checked or the meter tested. The retailer may require the customer to pay for the cost of the check or test if the check or test shows that the meter or the metering data was not faulty or incorrect.  
  3. End of fixed term contract notice: a customer must be informed when their energy contract is due to end. Retailers must send this notice no earlier than 40 days and no later than 20 business days before the end date of the contract and must follow the rules in terms of content and manner when sending it. 
  4. General information provision:
    1. Retailers: must publish on their website a summary of a small customer's rights, entitlements and obligations and if a customer requests any of this information, retailers must provide a copy without charge. The information must include:
      • retailer's standard complaints and dispute resolution procedures
      • contact details for the energy ombudsman 
      • in case of electricity, energisation and re-energisation time frames. 
    2. Distributors: have different contractual relationship with retail customers. However, under the NERR they have similar obligations to retailers with respect to publishing certain general information on their website. For example, they must publish the details of their connection contracts, the applicable energisation and re-energisation time frames, the details of customer connection services charges, the distributor's standard complaints and dispute resolution procedures, among others. Like retailers, they must also publish information on the rights, entitlements and obligations of small customers, including the distributor’s standard complaints and dispute resolution procedure and contact details of the energy ombudsman. A distributor must also maintain a 24-hour fault information and reporting telephone number for customers. 
  5. Customers on transfer: retailers must, after receiving notice that they are responsible for a transferring customer, notify the customer that they have commenced selling energy and the date on which they commenced selling that energy to that customer. 
  6. New electricity meter deployment: if a retailer proposes to undertake a new meter deployment, it must inform the relevant customer of the proposed deployment, which the customer can elect not to have their meter replaced and the applicable rates for the new meter. 
  7. Information when energy is interrupted: 
    1. Retailers: a retailer may arrange a planned interruption by obtaining the customer's consent and must notify the affected customers that the supply of energy will be interrupted (planned interruption). If the retailer does not obtain the consent, the retailer must notify the affected customer by any appropriate means at least 4 business days before the interruption. In some specific cases, such as life support, retailer's need customer's explicit consent to interrupt the supply of energy. In case of an unplanned interruption, if a customer contacts a retailer by phone about a fault or emergency, the retailer must refer the customer to the distributor's fault enquiries or emergency telephone number. 
    2. Distributors: a distributor may arrange a planned interruption by obtaining the customer's consent and must notify the affected customers that the supply of energy will be interrupted. If the retailer does not obtain the consent, the retailer must notify the affected customer by any appropriate means at least 4 business days before the interruption. 

A distributor must also, within 30 minutes of being advised of an unplanned interruption, or otherwise as soon as practicable, make available a 24-hour telephone service, provide the information on the nature of the interruption and an estimate of the time when supply will be restored or when reliable information on restoration of supply will be available. Additionally, the distributor must use its best endeavours to restore supply to affected customers as soon as possible.

Distributors and retailers must cooperate and refer a customer to each other depending on the type of planned interruption (distributor or retailer planned interruption) to provide relevant information to the customer.

Standard retail contract

Once a small customer requests the sale of energy under a retailer's standing offer, the retailer must provide the customer with the following information:

  • a description of the retailer's standard retail contract and how copies can be obtained
  • a description of the retailer's and customer's rights and obligations
  • a description of the retailer's complaints and dispute resolution procedures
  • on the availability of government funded energy charge rebates, concession or relief