Under the Retail Law, a person usually must hold a retailer authorisation in order to sell energy.
Situations where a retailer authorisation is not necessary or appropriate include those where the seller is selling energy incidentally (ie the sale is not the seller’s core business), or where the cost of having an authorisation outweighs the benefits to customers, or where an insignificant amount of energy is being sold. Examples include:
- Retirement villages where an owner or manager buys electricity from an authorised retailer, then ‘onsells’ it to residents;
- Caravan parks (or manufactured homes parks) where an owner or manager buys electricity from an authorised retailer, then ‘onsells’ it to residents;
- Bodies corporate/owners’ corporations who buy electricity from an authorised retailer, then ‘onsell’ it to tenants or residents.
- Persons selling energy at no profit or as a community service.
People engaging in such activities may be eligible for a retail exemption. The AER administers retail exemptions.
The AER's Exempt Selling Guideline sets out the AER’s approach to retail exemptions, including a full list of the types of activities which are exempt from the requirement to hold a retailer authorisation. The AER is currently consulting on a revised version of the Exempt Selling Guideline version 5.
If you own, operate or control a privately owned network, you will need an exemption from the requirement to register with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). Usually if you hold a retail exemption you will also need a network exemption, which are also administered by the AER. The AER's Electricity NSP Registration Exemption Guideline contains more information on these network exemptions, including a full list of the classes of network exemption available.
There are three different types of retail exemptions:
- Deemed exemptions
- Registrable exemptions
- Individual exemptions
If you are eligible for a deemed exemption, you do not need to apply to the AER. Instead, you are ‘deemed’ to fall within a particular class of exemption. However, you still need to abide by the conditions attached to the relevant class of exemption. The guideline sets out these conditions.
If you are eligible for a registrable exemption, you do not need to apply to the AER, however, you must complete the online registration form and submit it to the AER. Once you have done this, and we have placed your details on our public register, your exemption will come into force. You will need to abide by the conditions attached to the relevant class of registrable exemption. The guideline sets out these conditions.
If your activities do not fall into one of the AER’s classes of exemption (that is, a deemed or registrable exemption), you may apply to the AER for an individual exemption to cover your activities. Individual exemptions are tailored to specific situations, with conditions attached to the exemption where necessary (the AER will decide on any appropriate conditions when assessing your application). The AER's Exempt Selling Guideline contains information on how to apply for an individual exemption. Appendix B lists the questions to be answered in your application.
We recommend that you contact us to discuss your specific circumstances if you are considering applying for an individual exemption. If you successfully apply for an individual exemption, you will be included on the AER’s public register.
If you are eligible for a registrable exemption you must complete the registration form.
Exempt persons who hold individual or registrable exemptions will appear on the AER's public register of exemptions. The public register contains additional information including the location of the exempt site, the class of exemption, the date the exemption was granted and applicable conditions.