The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) works to make all Australian energy consumers better off, now and in the future.
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.
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. We do not set the prices consumers pay.
Our strategic objectives 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:
- Drive effective competition where it is feasible
- Provide effective regulation where competition is not feasible
- Equip consumers to participate effectively, including operating the Energy Made Easy website, and protect those who are unable to safeguard their own interests
- Use our expertise to inform debate about Australia’s energy future, the long-term interests of consumers and the regulatory landscape
- Take a long-term perspective while also considering the impact on consumers today.
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
Additionally, we assist 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 three members who are statutory appointments:
- Paula Conboy is the full-time Chair, having been appointed to this post for a five-year term, starting on 1 October 2014.
- One member of the AER must be a commissioner of the ACCC, appointed by the Commonwealth, and Cristina Cifuentes was appointed in this role for five years from 30 May 2013. She was previously a part-time AER Board member.
- Jim Cox commenced on 9 September 2013 as the acting state/territory appointed member of the AER Board for a 12 month term, and was subsequently appointed for a three year term from 26 June 2014. He was reappointed for a further three years from 23 May 2017.
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 Stakeholder Engagement Framework sets out our commitment and high-level approach to engaging with consumers and their representatives, industry participants and peak bodies, and other stakeholders.
Our Customer Consultative Group (CCG) and a Consumer Challenge Panel (CCP) provide important input to our work. The CCG comprises a diverse range of 12 organisations from across Australia and provides us with advice on cross-cutting issues as well as connecting into the wider consumer landscape. The CCP has 11 members appointed by the AER for a three-year term, whose role is to provide input and challenge us on key consumer issues during individual network determinations. CCP members have significant local and international expertise, spanning fields including economic regulation, energy networks and consumer representation.
The AER is a member of the Energy Intermarket Surveillance Group (EISG), the peak international group for coordination between energy market surveillance and enforcement bodies. The AER also participates in international regulators forums such as the World Forum on Energy Regulation and has staff exchange agreements with overseas energy regulators.
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 annual reports and undertake regular stakeholder surveys. These publications can be found on the corporate documents page.
The office of the AER, led by our chief executive Michelle Groves, 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.