Rule Change: Completed
On 25 February 2021, the AEMC made a final determination and rule which aims to reduce barriers for life support customers who switch retailers or move premises by enabling customers to reuse a previously submitted medical confirmation document. The rule will reduce costs and mobility challenges related to medical visits for life support customers while maintaining customer safety.
Details of the rule
The final rule amends the National Energy Retail Rules (NERR) to enable life support customers to receive back and re-utilise their valid medical confirmation previously submitted to the outgoing registration process owner (RPO) for the purpose of providing medical confirmation to the new RPO when changing retailer or distribution network service provider. To be valid, the previously used medical confirmation must be dated less than 4 years ago and be legible. The key components of the rule are:
- An entitlement for customers to reuse valid medical confirmations that were submitted to the outgoing RPO for the purpose of providing medical confirmation to the incoming RPO
- A requirement for the incoming RPO to inform the customer that they may reuse a valid medical confirmation provided to their previous retailer or DNSP for the purpose of registering their premises with the incoming RPO
- A requirement for the outgoing RPO to return the customer’s medical confirmation, within 15 business days of the customer's request (subject to privacy legislation). The obligation is only binding on the RPO if the request takes place within 110 business days of the person ceasing to be a customer for the registered premises.
- A requirement on RPOs to retain medical confirmation for the period of time the person remains a customer for the registered premises and for 110 business days after the person has ceased to be a customer for the registered premises.
- Updates to the definition of 'medical confirmation' to clarify that a medical certificate may be used to provide medical confirmation.
Rationale for the rule
The final rule will likely reduce costs for life support customers when compared to current arrangements by enabling these customers to reuse their existing valid medical confirmation for life support registration. As a result, life support customers are expected to be able to switch at lower cost.
The Commission considered that the final rule:
- improves access to retail market competition, including switching, by enabling an easy and low-cost way for consumers to access their previously used medical confirmation document from their outgoing RPO
- provides greater transparency and certainty by clarifying that RPOs must accept medical certificates as medical confirmation while also clarifying responsibilities for outgoing and incoming RPOs with respect to the retention and return of medical confirmation documents
- maintains the balanced allocation of risk and responsibilities. Customer safety is supported by ensuring RPOs have updated information without overburdening customers with respect to the re-submission of medical confirmation.
The rule change request
On 11 June 2020, the AEMC received a rule change request from the Energy and Water Ombudsman of New South Wales (EWON) to amend the National Energy Retail Rules. EWON raised concerns that the costs associated with securing a new medical certificate each time a customer changes premise or retailer may deter life support customers from switching retailers.
EWON proposed that the issue be addressed by enabling outgoing retailers or distributors to share relevant medical information with the new retailer or distributor selected by the customer.
The Commission received 33 submissions to the consultation paper and 22 submissions on the draft determination. These submissions can be found below.