The AER and the Australia and New Zealand Energy and Water Ombudsman Network (ANZEWON) are working collaboratively to consider what changes need to be made to the regulation of exempt sellers/exempt network service providers (exempt NSPs) and scheme membership and participation requirements respectively to improve exempt customer access to energy ombudsman schemes where it is required.
Final policy position
After considering stakeholder submissions to our June 2017 issues paper, we have finalised our policy position on this issue. Our position to expand energy ombudsman access to residential exempt customers is explained in the Notice of Final Instrument: AER (Retail) Exempt Selling Guideline - Version 5.
Under the Retail Law, small customers of authorised retailers and distributors have access to free and independent dispute resolution provided by their state or territory's energy ombudsman, or tribunal in the ACT.
However, small customers of exempt energy sellers and exempt NSPs are generally unable to access such dispute resolution services. Currently, the ombudsman schemes, with the exception of NSW, cannot hear complaints from exempt customers.
The significant growth of embedded networks, alternative selling models and other forms of exempt sales is leading to an increased number of customers without recourse to free and independent dispute resolution services.