The AER exists to ensure energy consumers are better off, now and in the future. Consumers are at the heart of our work, and we focus on ensuring a secure, reliable and affordable energy future for Australia.We recognise that energy is an essential service for Australian households and businesses and a critical contributor to the long-term success of the Australian economy.
We regulate electricity networks and covered gas pipelines in all jurisdictions except Western Australia. We set the amount of revenue that network businesses can recover from customers for using these networks.
We enforce the laws for the National Electricity Market and spot gas markets in southern and eastern Australia. We monitor and report on the conduct of market participants and the effectiveness of competition.
The AER has a key role in enabling consumers to make informed choices about their energy supplier. This role includes ensuring consumers are empowered to access the best energy offer for their circumstances, as well as helping consumers resolve any problems. We also encourage energy businesses to prioritise consumer welfare.
We protect the interests of household and small business consumers by enforcing the Retail Law. Our retail energy market functions cover New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania, the ACT and Queensland. The AER sets standing offer prices small business and residential customers pay in areas where there is no other retail price regulation – South Australia, New South Wales and south-east Queensland (Energex).
The AER Strategic Plan 2020-25 outlines our objectives, which are to:
- protect vulnerable consumers, while enabling consumers to participate in energy markets
- deliver efficient regulation of monopoly infrastructure while incentivising networks to become platforms for energy services
- effectively regulate competitive markets primarily through monitoring and reporting, and enforcement and compliance
- use our expertise to inform debate about Australia’s energy future and support the energy transition.
We work with the COAG Energy Council, the Energy Security Board and our partners – the other market bodies, state-based regulators, Energy Consumers Australia and energy ombudsmen schemes – on emerging issues and regulatory strategies. We are committed to engaging with consumers and their representatives, industry participants and peak bodies, and other stakeholders.
We resource several consumer forums to give us advice. These bodies include the Consumer Challenge Panel (CCP), the Consumer Reference Group (CRG), and the Consumer Consultative Group (CCG).
Additionally, the AER assists the ACCC with energy-related issues arising under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, including enforcement and mergers.
Governance and decision-making
The AER operates under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. The AER Board is an independent entity, comprising five members who are statutory appointments:
- Clare Savage is the full-time Chair, having been appointed to this post for a five-year term, starting on 14 October 2019.
- Board Members are Jim Cox, Eric Groom PSM, Catriona Lowe and Justin Oliver.
The Chair must preside at all AER Board meetings and a quorum requires both the chair and the member appointed by the Commonwealth. Questions arising at a meeting must be determined by unanimous vote of the members present and voting.
The AER may make decisions in relation to its functions under the National Electricity Law, National Gas Law and National Energy Retail Law. It can seek an order from the Federal Court that a person is in breach of a relevant energy law. Decisions of the AER are subject to judicial review by the Federal Court.
Our Strategic Statement sets out our purpose and strategic objectives. Every year the COAG Energy Council publishes a Statement of Expectations, to which the AER Statement of Intent is our response - this includes our work program and benchmarks to measure our performance. Additionally we publish corporate documents such as annual reports and undertake regular stakeholder surveys.
The office of the AER, led by our chief executive Dr Liz Develin, is responsible for providing timely, quality advice to the Board to support its decision-making responsibilities. In consultation with the Board, the office is responsible to the ACCC for governance and efficient management of resources.