The National Energy Retail Law (Queensland) Bill 2014 was passed
by the Queensland Parliament on 10 September 2014 (NERL). This law
will shift Queensland to a national framework that will regulate
the sale and supply of energy (electricity and gas) to consumers
from 1 July 2015.
Broadly, the intention of the NERL is to improve consistency
between the States and to improve customer protections. Queensland
follows New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria to have
adopted the NERL.
It also means that responsibility for monitoring and regulating
the NERL will shift from the Department of Energy and Water Supply
in Queensland to the Australian Energy Regulator
What this means for you...
Following the passage of the NERL in Queensland, suppliers of
energy (including on-suppliers) will need to take steps to comply
with the NERL. This may involve:
making an assessment of and applying for any necessary
exemptions to the AER;
reviewing supply contracts and practices to ensure they comply
with the NERL;
understanding the customer protection requirements of the NERL
and how they differ from the current position.
Details of the new National Energy Retail Law
The NERL, as adopted in Queensland, replicates the NERL
contained in a Schedule to the National Energy Retail Law (South
Australia) Act 2011. It will:
incorporate a detailed electricity sales framework and
impose a price comparison obligation;
place regulatory obligations on retailers to operate programs
to help customers experiencing hardship;
establish a comprehensive "exempt seller" framework
that gives small customers in 'on-supply' situations
broadly equivalent protections to other customers;
include processes and requirements around billing and credit
apply a National Connections Framework that sets out processes
for new connections including response times to customer
Important differences between the Queensland NERL and
the national scheme
The Queensland Act will not completely adopt the National Energy
Retail Law in light of the particular circumstances of the
Queensland electricity market. The key derogations from the NERL
existing obligations on Ergon Energy and Origin Energy to
deliver the Uniform Tariff Policy to large customers will continue.
This means that large customers on Ergon's distribution network
will still receive the standard large customer retail price;
expressly requiring retailers to offer customer retail services
to large customers where they are the financially responsible
retailer for the premises, so customers can continue to access
supply despite existence of weak competition;
providing specialised standard retail and connection contracts
for card-operated meter customers that set out clear rights and
obligations within technical limitations of the service; and
still restricting retail competition in some areas where
technical limitations exist or where there is no economic benefit
to do so.
Electricity Competition and Protection Act also
This Act was passed by Parliament on 10 September 2014 and will
amend the Electricity Act 1994 (Qld) on a date fixed by
proclamation to complement the shift to the NERL. It will:
remove retail price regulation in South East Queensland. The
Minister will no longer be able to decide regulated retail
electricity prices within "Energex's distribution
area" under the Electricity Act from 1 July 2015. This means
that retail electricity prices in South East Queensland are to be
regulated by market competition;
establish a market monitoring regime. This will be done by
allowing the Minister to direct the Queensland Competition
Authority to undertake a market monitoring function and to publish
an annual market comparison report about electricity prices in SEQ.
If market settings in SEQ prove ineffective, the Minister has the
power to reintroduce price controls; and
retain price controls in regional Queensland. For general
business supply, the remaining applicable tariff will primarily be
Tariff 20 and 22. Tariffs 11 and 12 will continue to apply for
residential customers in regional Queensland.
Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide
commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon
as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular
transactions or on matters of interest arising from this bulletin.
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