The National Energy Retail Law (Retail Law) requires that anyone selling energy to customers must either hold a retailer authorisation or a valid exemption. While most sellers of energy will hold an authorisation, there will be some circumstances where an authorisation is not appropriate. This could include retirement villages, caravan parks or any other arrangement where an owner purchases energy from an authorised retailer and then 'onsells' the energy to tenants.
The Retail Law allows these types of entities to be exempted from the requirement to hold a retailer authorisation and sets out the exemptions framework. The AER is responsible for regulating exempt persons and placing conditions on exemptions.
There are three types of exemption:
- deemed exemptions,
- registrable exemptions, and
- individual exemptions.
To manage this process, the AER has published the Retail Exempt Selling Guideline. The Guideline explains how to apply for an individual exemption, and how to obtain a registrable exemption. It also discusses the factors that the AER will consider in assessing individual exemption applications. The Guideline sets out the various classes of deemed and registrable exemptions, and the conditions attached to each class of deemed and registrable exemption.
The AER is currently seeking feedback form stakeholders on a revised Draft Retail Exempt Selling Guideline version 5 (Draft Guideline) and it's accompanying Notice of Draft Instrument. Track changes have been retained indicating the changes introduced from version 4 for ease of reference.
As part of this review, we propose changes to the Guideline to:
- improve dispute resolution options for residential exempt customers by requiring exempt sellers with residential customers to be members of, or subject to, a relevant energy ombudsman scheme where they can be accommodated by the scheme,
- place a clear obligation on exempt sellers to have complaints and dispute handling procedures, and
- align a number of customer protections within the Guideline with the National Energy Retail Law.
The proposed dispute resolution changes in the Draft Guideline are the next step in our work with the Australian and New Zealand Energy and Water Ombudsman Network (ANZEWON) to consider how access to ombudsman scheme for exempt customers should be expanded. As part of this work, we have also considered stakeholder feedback to our June 2017 issues paper, and outline our final policy position in the Notice of Draft Instrument.
Submissions to the Draft Exempt Selling Guideline closed 19 December 2017.
We held a stakeholder forum via VCU across our Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Hobart offices on Thursday 14 December 2017 to discuss the proposed amendments.