This guidance note was published on 28 October 2020.
Guidance note 7 (2020): Preventing disconnections of customers receiving assistance under Part 3: clause 116(1)(d)
An energy retail industry pulse check was issued to retailers on 4 May 2020 to understand the practices retailers have in place to support customers experiencing payment difficulties and family violence in line with protections in the Energy Retail Code.
The pulse check found retailers have adopted a standard practice when it came to preventing wrongful disconnections as prohibited by clause 116. However, a key issue was whether the standard was adequate.
Having regard to current industry practices, the commission considered the requirements of clause 116(1)(d) and provides the following guidance.
Clause 116(1)(d) provides:
116 When retailer must not arrange de-energisation
(1) Restrictions on de-energisation
Despite any other provisions of this Division but subject to subclauses (2), (3) and (4), a retailer must not arrange for the de-energisation of a customer’s premises to occur:
(d) where the customer is a residential customer who is receiving assistance under Part 3 and is adhering to the terms of that assistance.
Although the pulse check found most retailers’ disconnection processes include a check for customers on active ‘payment plans’, this check is not adequate if it does not cover customers who are receiving other assistance under Part 3 of the code.1 Guidance on this point is provided below.
Why might checking for a payment plan not be enough?
The prohibition on disconnecting a customer in clause 116(1)(d) is not limited to a customer on a ‘payment plan’ – it applies to a customer who is receiving assistance under Part 3 of the code.
A customer may be receiving assistance under Part 3 that is not a payment plan, for example a payment extension under clause 76(2)(c) of the code.
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