A draft Better Bills Guideline (Version 2) was published on 23 September 2022 for consultation to make minor amendments to the guideline.
On 18 March 2021, the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) made a final rule requiring us to publish a Better bills guideline (the Guideline) by 1 April 2022. The purpose of the Guideline is to provide guidance to retailers on preparing and issuing bills that make it easy for residential and small customers to understand billing information.
The Guideline development process was informed by a range of sources, including:
- stakeholder submissions to consultation processes (including the AEMC rule determination process, an AER consultation paper, and the draft Guideline)
- input and feedback received through stakeholder forums and the ongoing Better Bills Guideline Working Group
- existing Australian and international literature and research
- new consumer and behavioural research commissioned by the AER.
On 31 March 2022, the AER published the final Better Bills Guideline.
On 16 April 2020, the Hon Angus Taylor MP (then Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, now Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction), submitted a rule change request to amend the National Energy Retail Rules on behalf of the Australian Government.
The rule change request sought to simplify energy bills in order to ensure clear and accessible information for all customers and to help reduce market complexity while strengthening the ability of customers to make informed decisions. The Minister noted this would make it easier for consumers to:
- pay their energy bills
- ensure their bill conforms to their contract
- query their bill
- understand their usage
- navigate the retail market to seek the best offer.
In response to the rule change request, the AEMC made a more preferable rule, adopting many elements of the initial rule change request. The final rule requires the AER to develop, and retailers to comply with, a mandatory billing guideline setting out how retailers must prepare and issue bills to residential and small business customers.
The development of the Guideline aligns with the AER Strategic Plan 2020–2025 commitment to improve consumer outcomes while reducing costs to serve, by boosting consumer and behavioural insights and applying them across our initiatives. In this case, we worked with the Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government (BETA) as part of a broader strategic partnership, as well as other research consultants.
Progress to date
- March - April 2021: Review of existing research conducted by BETA resulting in a proposed research plan to fill knowledge gaps.
- May 2021: Feedback sought on the proposed research plan from targeted industry and consumer stakeholders.
- June - July 2021: Online surveys conducted by BETA. Focus groups conducted by Hall & Partners and the Ethnic Communities Council of NSW.
- July 2021: The Better Bills Guideline Working Group was established.
- September 2021: Interim research reports released.
September 2021: Stakeholder consultation on Better Bills Guideline development issues.
- October 2021: Release of BETA’s final research report on Improving Energy Bills.
- December 2021: Release of Hall & Partners small and medium businesses focus group research.
- December 2021 - January 2022: Stakeholder consultation on draft Better Bills Guideline.
- March 2022: Release of BIT's research on better offer and publication of the final Better Bills Guideline.