AusNet Services is conducting the trial of the New Reg process in the development of its regulatory proposal for the 2021-25 period. For further detail on AusNet’s consultation, including opportunities to be involved in the consultation, please see AusNet Services website. For further information on the AER's consultation on New Reg process we direct to Consultation on New Reg.
Customer Forum membership
The Customer Forum consists of five members and greater detail about each member can be found on AusNet Services website (link is external). Similarly, detail about the selection process for AusNet Services’ Customer Forum is set out in section 3.5 of AusNet Services Early Engagement Plan, a copy of which is available below.
Operations and Governance
The operations of the trial are guided by its founding documents. These are:
- AusNet Services Early Engagement Plan, which was accepted by the AER on 11 March 2018 and which broadly lays out the process by which AusNet will operate the Customer Forum; and
- A Memorandum of Understanding between AusNet Services, the AER and the Customer Forum, which formalised governance arrangements for the trial, including key responsibilities and deliverables, funding arrangements and conflict resolution mechanisms, including the role of the Reference Committee.
Copies of both of these documents and the terms of reference for the Reference Committee are available below.
Timelines and Milestones
Recruitment, Training and First Negotiation Period (March 2018 – December 2018)
The initial process runs from March 2018 until December 2018, when AusNet Services releases its Draft Regulatory Proposal. This initial process is broadly split into two key parts:
- A first induction and training period, which ran until July 2018 and involved intensive training on the business, the regulatory framework and an investigation of customers’ preferences and issues; and
- The first negotiation period, which runs from September 2018 until December 2018, after which AusNet Services’ will release its Regulatory Proposal and the Customer Forum will release its draft engagement report.
Release of Regulatory Proposal, Consultation and Second Negotiation Period (December 2018 – July 2019)
To coincide with the release of AusNet Services’ Regulatory Proposal, the Customer Forum is expected to release its Draft Engagement Report, which identifies:
- matters considered by the Customer Forum;
- the extent that AusNet Services and the Customer Forum agreed or disagreed on these matters; and
- how these outcomes reflect the perspectives and preferences of AusNet Services Customers.
Following the release of these documents AusNet Services will then undertake a period of public consultation, from December 2018 until March 2019. After this, AusNet services will engage in a second negotiation period with the Customer Forum ending in July 2019. This final negotiation will allow the Customer Forum to consider feedback from AusNet's public consultation.
At the conclusion of this period the Customer Forum will complete a Final Engagement Report, which will be submitted to the AER together with AusNet’s Regulatory Proposal which is due on 31 July 2019.
AER Involvement in the Trial
AER staff plays a role in the AusNet Services Trial. This has included providing input on the recruitment of Customer Forum, providing guidance and support to the Customer Forum and agreeing the proposed scope of matters for negotiation.
CCP involvement in the trial
The Consumer Challenge Panel (CCP) assists the AER to make better regulatory determinations by providing input on issues of importance to consumers. The CCP17 subpanel, consisting of Mike Swanston, Robyn Robinson, David Prins and Mark Henley, has been assembled for the 2021-25 Victorian electricity distribution determinations. CCP17’s role is to provide advice to the AER on the proposals of all five Victorian electricity distribution businesses. This will include advice on the consumer engagement of the DBs and how it has influenced their respective Regulatory Proposals.
CCP17 is planning to deliver an ‘Early Advice on Consumer Engagement’ Report to the AER in early December 2018. For each distribution business, the Early Advice will document the process undertaken to date, observed strengths, any gaps or major issues, and an indication of future plans. The Early Advice will not seek to evaluate or compare the effectiveness of each DB’s approach to consumer engagement.
CCP17 will also report on the consumer engagement carried out by the Victorian distribution business after the lodgement of their regulatory proposals in July 2019. For AusNet Services this report will cover whether AusNet Services proposal is in the long term interests of consumers, and the effectiveness of AusNet Services’ consumer engagement on issues that are outside the scope of the Customer Forum. The AER in conjunction with Energy Networks Australia and Energy Consumers Australia will be separately undertaking a review of the AusNet Services’ trial of the New Reg process.
On 20 June 2018 the AER asked CCP17 to undertake three specific roles prior to the lodgement of AusNet Services’ revenue proposal with the AER:
- Assist the Customer Forum, where requested, in preparing its initial and final Engagement Reports. This has involved meetings between the Customer Forum and CCP17 to test their thinking on issues that are in scope, and access the broader perspective of the CCP.
- Observe AusNet Services’ consultation on its draft revenue proposal with consumers and other stakeholder groups, focusing on issues that are out-of-scope of the Customer Forum’s negotiation. Where requested by AusNet Services, CCP17 should engage in issues that are not in the scope of the Customer Forum. This means that AusNet Services can consult with CCP, Customer Forum and AER in any ‘deep dives’.
- Provide written feedback to the AER on the Customer Forum’s initial Engagement Report and the draft revenue proposal that will be released for broader comment in mid-December 2018. The Customer Forum would have the opportunity to take CCP17’s views into account, along with the views of other consumer groups, in preparing the final Engagement Report.
Beyond making submissions on the distribution businesses’ revenue proposals after they have been lodged, CCP17 would perform its usual role, which includes providing input and challenging the AER on key consumer issues and submitting on the AER’s draft determinations and the distribution businesses’ revised proposals.