The Australian Energy Regulator published its annual report on 30 September 2015. The report details the agency’s work in 2014–15 and tracks performance against comprehensive targets. It highlights the AER’s work in setting revenues for energy networks, protecting customers in retail energy markets and regulating wholesale electricity and gas markets.
The report discusses the application of Better Regulation reforms to network revenue determinations and gas access arrangements, including the use of benchmarking. It also highlights the agency’s stronger focus on consultation and engagement with network businesses and consumers.
“Engagement will remain a key theme as energy markets evolve and new products and services are offered,” said AER Chair, Ms Paula Conboy. “It improves regulatory outcomes and is essential for maintaining public confidence in the regime.”
Building consumer confidence in energy retail markets was another focus during the year. Energy retail markets are rapidly evolving, with consumers having greater choice over how and when they use energy and manage bills. “We launched a more user-friendly Energy Made Easy website in June 2015 that makes it easier for consumers to compare energy offers,” Ms Conboy said.
“In a time of change, adequate customer information, explicit informed consent and customer protection remain essential for consumers to confidently engage with energy markets and get the outcomes that best suit their needs.”
The report surveys the AER’s compliance work, including enforcement action taken to protect consumers and the market’s integrity. The agency instituted two proceedings in the Federal Court and issued 10 infringement notices for contraventions to legislation.
“Change is transforming the energy market and consumers have moved centre stage,” Ms Conboy said. “Looking ahead, we will work to ensure Australia’s energy market and regulatory arrangements are responsive and flexible to the needs of consumers and industry, while still offering stability and predictability for investors.”