Annual Report 2018-19Published 17 October 2019
From the chairperson
The commission’s work program spans a number of sectors and the scope and nature of our work program continues to grow.
I believe this reflects the trust and confidence that is placed in the commission. This is all made possible by the capability and dedication of the commission’s staff and directors, and their willingness to embrace new challenges, often within tight time frames. The staff of the commission are very ably led by our Chief Executive Officer, John Hamill. I feel very privileged to work alongside such a diverse and inspired group of people.
The commission has focused its efforts on empowering customers and restoring customer confidence and trust. In the retail energy market, we have implemented a range of new customer entitlements intended to encourage and support a culture of shared responsibility within the sector.
In May 2019, the Victorian Government accepted the commission’s advice on a fairer price for electricity customers, the Victorian Default Offer, and the commission is tasked with resetting the default offer each year.
Over the past year, following on from our work with the water sector, we worked closely with the energy sector to develop family violence protections for customers affected by family violence, in response to a recommendation of the Royal Commission into Family Violence. These provisions come into effect from 1 January 2020 and are part of our ongoing commitment to work with the water and energy sectors to support collaboration on better practice approaches to family violence responses.
The commission continued its strong focus on monitoring and enforcing the compliance of licensees in the Victorian energy sector. Since August 2018, we have issued a number of penalty notices to energy retailers and distributors resulting in payment of penalties in excess of $600,000. Those penalties were imposed where there was harm, or potential for harm, to Victorian energy customers.
Our Victorian Energy Upgrades team successfully managed the introduction of a large set of regulatory changes that commenced in December 2018.
In August 2018, the team also enforced a $3 million penalty on an energy retailer after a VEU audit found the business had not surrendered enough energy efficiency certificates to offset its liability under the program.
This year we released the results of our first water customer perception survey, which enables customers to see how their water business is performing against other businesses.
Collectively, all of these efforts are aimed at increasing customer awareness, encouraging customer engagement across the sectors, ensuring protections are in place for vulnerable customers and holding our regulated entities to account if they depart from their regulatory obligations.
It has been a year of change at a commissioner level. On 30 May 2019, the commission’s Chairperson, Ron Ben-David, finished his 10-year term with the commission. I pay tribute to Ron’s incredible contribution to the work and people of the commission, and his enduring dedication to promoting the long-term interests of Victorian consumers.
In March 2019, Commissioner Richard Clarke completed his five-year term with the commission. Richard’s contribution to the economic analysis of the commission was highly valued, as was his personable approach and willingness to engage with all team members of the commission.
In April 2019, we were pleased to welcome Simon Corden as a commissioner who brings economic and public policy expertise to our work program. In May 2019, the Victorian Government also announced an extra commissioner with an enforcement focus to support our work program.
I am confident that the commission is well-positioned to embrace future challenges and I look forward to being part of the team as the commission embarks on its next chapter as an independent regulator that promotes the long-term interests of Victorian consumers.
Kate Symons, Commissioner and Chairperson