What is an embedded network?

 

In some sites like apartment blocks, retirement villages, caravan parks and shopping centres, the electrical wiring is configured in such a way to allow the owner of the site to sell energy to all the tenants and residents based there. 

This is known as an embedded network. 

The owner of a site with an embedded network usually buys energy from an energy retailer and then ‘onsells’ the energy to the different consumers at the site. In some situations, the energy sold by the owner may be generated on site. 

Most people that sell energy in embedded networks are known as "exempt sellers" because they do not need to become authorised by the AER as energy retailers. 

However, they do need to hold a valid exemption from the AER and to follow certain rules that protect your rights as a consumer. 

What you need to know

All energy consumers have protections and rights but they may be different if you buy your energy from an exempt seller, compared to when you buy your energy from an authorised retailer. 

If you are in an embedded network you can buy your electricity from either an authorised energy retailer or an exempt seller. 

However, consumers in an embedded network may have difficulty buying energy from a seller other than from the exempt seller. This is because of the way the network has been wired or because energy retailers may not want to sell to a consumer inside an embedded network.  

If you can choose to buy from an energy retailer instead of the site’s exempt seller you will need to be careful that you don’t pay twice for network charges. Network charges are the fixed part of supplying energy to your home or business. 

Normally in an embedded network the owner or operator of the site pays the network charges and will then bill you for your share. This is not a problem if you buy your electricity from the owner or operator of the site. A retailer normally also charges consumers a network charge. 

To make sure you don't pay twice you should check that the energy retailer will give you an ‘energy only’ offer or that the owner or operator of the site is able to come to an arrangement with the retailer about who will bill you for your network charges.  

Accessing an authorised retailer of your choice fact sheet

If you buy your electricity from an authorised energy retailer you will have access to all the protections that retailers are obliged to provide you under the National Energy Retail Law and National Energy Retail Rules. 

For more information on your consumer rights, visit our Energy Made Easy website.

In buying electricity from an exempt seller, these are part of the ‘exemption conditions’ that the seller must comply with to sell energy in an embedded network. 

Your energy seller must tell you about your rights at the beginning of your contract or agreement. Your energy seller must also give you a copy of their exemption conditions and explain their obligations to you.  

For residential consumers:

If you are a residential consumer (for example, a long term resident in a caravan park, a resident in a retirement village or apartment building, or a tenant), your consumer protections will include:  

  • Flexible payment options if you are experiencing financial difficulty 
  • Clear and set time frames for receiving and paying bills 
  • Complaints handling arrangements 
  • Energy charges that are no higher than the standing offer prices that a local area retailer can charge contracted consumers 
  • Clear and reasonable disconnection procedures. 

If you are a tenant you may also have energy related rights and obligations under your tenancy agreement.

For commercial consumers:

If you are a retail or commercial consumer (for example, if you operate a small business in a shopping centre) your protections will include: 

  • Clear, reasonable disconnection procedures 
  • Clear, set time frames for receiving and paying bills 
  • Energy charges that are no higher than the standing offer prices that a local area retailer can, in certain circumstances, charge their consumers (only small retail and commercial consumers) 
  • Complaints handling requirements. 

Exempt sellers and network operators who supply energy to residential consumers must join the Energy Ombudsman scheme in their state or territory if membership is available.

The Energy Ombudsman can help you with advice and concerns about your supply of energy from an exempt seller.

Contact your state/territory ombudsman to discuss your complaint

If your energy supplier is going out of business, there are steps you can take to switch your energy supply to an authorised retailer and limit the risk of disruption to your energy service. 

Your best immediate option is to find an alternative retailer to take over responsibility for the embedded network. 

In the longer term, you may be able to arrange direct connection to the local energy network.  

An energy supplier is required to immediately notify the AER if there is any likelihood that it will be unable to continue to sell energy. 

Finding an alternative authorised retailer

We recommend you contact an alternative authorised retailer as soon as possible to see whether they will consider taking over responsibility for your embedded network. In these situations, the authorised retailer would sell energy to you, rather than your current energy supplier. 

The authorised retailers below have consented to being contacted about alternative retailer arrangements if your existing energy supplier fails. However, they are not obligated to do so and will assess your circumstances on a case-by-case basis.   

Please note that the AER does not endorse any specific authorised retailer as being suitable for your needs. 

Alternative authorised retailers if your existing energy supplier fails:

Authorised retailerContact details
Altogether Group Pty LtdEmail: spriceataltogethergroup [dot] com [dot] au (sprice[at]altogethergroup[dot]com[dot]au), clientofficeataltogethergroup [dot] com [dot] au (clientoffice[at]altogethergroup[dot]com[dot]au)
Phone: 0447 071 346, 1300 806 806
EnergyOnEmail: TheTeamatEnergyOn [dot] com [dot] au (TheTeam[at]EnergyOn[dot]com[dot]au) 
Phone: 1300 323 263    
Humenergy Group Pty LtdEmail: salesathumenergy [dot] com [dot] au (sales[at]humenergy[dot]com[dot]au) 
Phone: 1300 322 622 
Metered Energy (QLD only)Email: contactatmeteredenergy [dot] com [dot] au (contact[at]meteredenergy[dot]com[dot]au) 
Phone: 1300 633 637 
Microgrid PowerEmail: supportatmicrogridpower [dot] com [dot] au (support[at]microgridpower[dot]com[dot]au) 
Phone: 1300 647 888 
Next Business EnergyEmail: salesatnextbusinessenergy [dot] com [dot] au (sales[at]nextbusinessenergy[dot]com[dot]au) 
Phone: 1300 208 966 
Savant EnergyEmail: dporteratsavantenergy [dot] com [dot] au (dporter[at]savantenergy[dot]com[dot]au) 
Phone: 0402 438 596 
Utility ShopEmail: accountsatutilityshop [dot] com [dot] au (accounts[at]utilityshop[dot]com[dot]au) 
Phone: 08 7127 1510 

 

In the longer term, you could see to it that you are ‘wired out’ of the embedded network and be connected directly to the main energy grid. 

However, a connection to the main energy network may require infrastructure changes and could be a long process. A distributor or retailer may also require you to contribute to the costs of the connection.  

Your local distributor can provide you with information about how to connect to the network and the costs involved.

Find your distributor

Easy English information

The AER has produced easy English fact sheets for small businesses and consumers on their rights and protections if they buy energy from an exempt seller. 

AER factsheet - Buying energy from an exempt seller - Your rights and protections as a residential customer

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Your rights and protections as a residential customer buying energy from an exempt seller.

Consumer fact sheets

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The Australian Energy Regulator produces a range of energy related fact sheets for consumers that you can download, view and print.

Translated information

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The AER has developed content for consumers that speak a language other than English to help them understand their rights and manage bills and energy usage.

Contact us

Please contact us at AERExemptionsataer [dot] gov [dot] au (AERExemptions[at]aer[dot]gov[dot]au) if you have concerns that your exempt seller is going out of business.