National Energy Customer Framework
What is the National Energy Customer Framework?
The National Energy Customer Framework (NECF) commenced on 1 July 2012, introducing a new set of national laws, rules, and regulations governing the retail sale and distribution of energy to consumers. The NECF is a single, simplified, national regulatory regime intended to deliver efficiencies in terms of regulatory certainty, reduced compliance costs, and competition benefits to consumers. The NECF does not cover the technical regulation of energy suppliers. The Framework primarily deals with the following matters:
- retailer-customer relationship and associated rights, obligations and energy specific consumer protection measures
- interactions with customers and retailers, and associated rights, obligations and consumer protection measures
- retailer authorisations (previously jurisdictionally licensed)
- monitoring, enforcement and performance reporting
Under the NECF, the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) takes over the responsibility for regulating energy retailers from the ACT Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission (ICRC). The AER will also administer an energy price comparison service for consumers.
The NECF regulates the sale and supply of energy through a set of national rules. The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) [LINK] is the responsible rule making body for these set of national retail rules.
The NECF comprises a number of key instruments:
- National Energy Retail Law (NERL)
- National Energy Retail Regulations
- National Energy Retail Rules
- Amendments and additions to the Rules made under the National Electricity Law amendments and additions to the Rules made under the National Gas Law
These are available on the South Australian legislation register
The rules are available at AEMC.
The ACT’s Implementation of NECF
The ACT applied these NECF instruments with effect from 1 July 2012 through the following instruments:
- National Energy Retail Law (ACT) Act 2012
- National Energy Retail Law (ACT) Regulation 2012
The National Energy Retail Law (ACT) Act 2012 applies the National Energy Retail Law as a law in the ACT. It also ensures pre-NECF customer contracts, associated benefits and protections are maintained and transitioned smoothly to this new regulatory framework without requiring any action from consumers.
The National Energy Retail Law (ACT) Regulation 2012 provides for the following:
- operation of the National Energy Retail Law in border areas of the ACT that are serviced by distribution networks that come from NSW
- that a retailer or distributor must comply with in relation to the provision of services, including in relation to connection and re-energisation of premises
- application of certain voluntary ('opt-in’) parts of the NECF including allowing the sale of energy to small customers using prepayment meter systems and adopting the price comparator website the AER will maintain as part of the NECF
- Miscellaneous transitional arrangements
A number of consequential amendments to the ACT’s existing energy laws were also necessary as a result of the implementation of the National Energy Retail Law. These are contained in the National Energy Retail Law (Consequential Amendments) Act 2012.
In particular, energy retailers authorised to sell under the National Energy Retail Law (NERL retailers) will have obligations under the following ACT laws (in addition to those under the National Energy Retail Law (ACT)):
- Electricity Feed-in (Renewable Energy Premium) Act 2008
- Electricity Safety Act 1971
- Energy Efficiency (Cost of Living) Improvement Act 2012
- Gas Safety Act 2000
- Utilities Act 2000 (including the obligation to pay the Energy Industry Levy)
The ACT NECF legislation is available on the ACT legislation register.
ACT Modification of National Energy Retail Rules
The National Energy Retail Rules apply in the ACT as modified by Schedule 1 to the National Energy Retail Law (ACT) Regulation 2012. These modifications are as follows:
National Energy Retail Rule
Omit the words “unless the customer is a small market offer customer”
The National Energy Retail Rules apply in the ACT as modified by Schedule 1 to the National Energy Retail Law (ACT) Regulation 2012.
This modification is consequential to the ACT’s non- application of the small market offer customer category (section 19, National Energy Retail Law (ACT) Act 2012).
The Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission (ICRC) is responsible for codes relating to NERL energy retailers and distributors. These codes can be found at ICRC’s.
The determination specifying the industry codes applicable to NERL retailers is also available at the ACT legislation register
Australian Capital Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT)
The ACAT (http://www.acat.act.gov.au/) remains the ACT ombudsman relating to complaints about the sale and supply of energy to customers in the ACT.