We reviewed the protections for customers within the code, such as when customers can be financially recognised for low reliability of electricity supply. This was part of a broader code review.
Customer protections in the Electricity Distribution Code (2019 review)
Draft decision7 May 2020
Stakeholder webinar25 June 2020
Submissions close2 July 2020
Final decision16 November 2020
As part of our Electricity Distribution Code review, we reviewed the customer protection framework for electricity customers.
The code has service standards to protect customers as they interact with the electricity network. Our final decision will ensure customer protections remain fit for purpose and reflect customer expectations as the electricity sector undergoes change and modernisation. The customer service standards include:
- the guaranteed service level scheme - this includes financial recognition for eligible customers related to low supply reliability, delayed new connections or where distributors are late to scheduled appointments
- communication requirements for planned outages - distributors must provide minimum levels of notification to customers about scheduled or cancelled works.
On 22 December 2020, the commission issued an amended final decision document and notice of correction.
Key facts from our final decision
Planned outage communications
Our final decision will facilitate better information exchange between retailers, distributors and ultimately with customers.
Customers can nominate their preferred contact channels, including text message and email, to receive planned outage notices. Customers will also receive more information about the reason for planned outages and cancelled works.
Distributors may also have flexibility to interrupt supply at short notice, if certain conditions are satisfied.
Guaranteed service level scheme
The new rules will modernise our guaranteed service level scheme to:
- ensure it remains fit for purpose and captures customers who receive the poorest service from their distributor
- update the value of payments and payment thresholds
- ensure customers receive more timely payments - most payments will be made quarterly instead of annually.
New reporting requirements
Our new reporting reforms require distributors to report to us on:
- the time it takes to process embedded generation applications and connect solar and battery systems
- all guaranteed service level data they currently provide to the Australian Energy Regulator
- smart meter unplanned outage data.
View our final decision paper
1 January 2021: The ability for distributors to interrupt a customer's supply with less than four business days' notice subject to consent requirements. Transitional arrangements for the current guaranteed service level scheme commence.
1 April 2021: New obligations on electricity retailers to provide better customer information to distributors.
1 July 2021: The new planned outage communication requirements and guaranteed service level scheme come into effect.
Consultation on our draft decision
Consultation on our draft decision closed on 2 July 2020.
As part of our consultation on our draft decision we met with:
- all five electricity distributors
- eight retailers
- two consumer groups
- and the Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria).
We also held a stakeholder webinar to present what we heard during this consultation. The webinar was attended by 32 stakeholders including one member of the public and representatives from:
- all five electricity distributors
- 10 retailers
- four consumer groups
- Energy Safe Victoria
- the Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria)
- the Department of Environment, Land, Water and planning.
Much of the feedback focused on fine tuning and refining the proposed framework. Some of the key matters stakeholders raised were around the practicalities of implementing the reforms along with a customer centric approach. We considered this feedback in designing the final framework in a way that achieved the intent of our draft decisions while taking stakeholder views into account.
The key feedback on our proposals related to:
- requiring retailers to collect and share customer information, including email addresses and phone numbers, with distributors
- ensuring that retailers apply guaranteed service level payments to customer accounts in a timely manner
- requiring distributors to obtain explicit informed consent to provide customers with only electronic notification of planned supply outages
- ensuring distributors make guaranteed service level payments in a timely way
- making sure customers are notified about the cancellation of works in most circumstances
- notifying local communities about the potential for unplanned outages due to the annual compliance testing of bushfire safety equipment
- considering the commencement time frames for the new rules.
A more detailed summary of the feedback received can be downloaded below. The stakeholder webinar slides and recording can also be accessed below.
Enquiries can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Stakeholder consultation resources
View our draft decision paper
The code has many different areas to consider. Throughout 2019-20 and beyond, we are engaging with many different stakeholders as we consider the matters outlined for review.
If you would like to receive direct updates and notifications about our project, please email email@example.com.