The Chairmen of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Mr Graeme Samuel, and the Australian Energy Regulator (AER), Mr Steve Edwell, today announced that the Australian Energy Regulator will commence operations today.
The AER is a new independent national body which will be responsible for economic regulation in Australian energy markets and compliance with the electricity and gas rules at a national level. It has been established under the Trade Practices Act 1974 as a constituent part of the ACCC.
"The establishment of the Australian Energy Regulator is an important milestone for energy regulation in Australia", Mr Samuel said. "The energy industry provides essential services to Australian households and businesses. The AER brings under one umbrella, regulatory functions formerly conducted by the ACCC, the National Electricity Code Administrator and will cover some functions undertaken by state regulators. The AER's relationship with the ACCC will encourage consistency in regulation between energy and other sectors of the economy".
Mr Edwell explained that the AER will provide consistent regulation across the energy sector on a national basis significantly streamlining energy regulation in Australia.
"Differing approaches to regulation across jurisdictions distorts investment decisions, creating unnecessary costs", he said. "The national electricity market in particular requires a national approach to regulation if it is to deliver the significant benefits of a national integrated industry. Bringing regulation under one body will reduce the complexity and compliance costs for business.
"The AER will look to ensure the long term, efficiency and security of supply of energy, and thereby promote timely investment; it will also be keenly interested in the quality of services and prices faced by end users. The commencement of the AER, coupled with other energy market reforms, will facilitate market investment, reduce barriers to entry and encourage competition for the benefit of industry and households".
The AER is comprised of three Members who are statutory appointments. Mr Edwell is the inaugural full-time Chair of the AER. The other two Members are Mr Ed Willett, a Commissioner of the ACCC, and Mr Geoff Swier, a consultant with significant experience in energy market reform.