We considered a request by energy retailers to vary obligations on them in certain circumstances under the Energy Retail Code.
Energy retailer disconnection and reconnection obligations review 2011
We considered a request by energy retailers to vary obligations on them in certain circumstances under the Energy Retail Code. Since this project's completion, we've completed several other projects that have resulted in updates to the code.
Our final decision focused on customer instalment plans and related principles
As part of this project, we considered advice from the Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria that approximately 50 per cent of disconnection cases are found to be wrongful. When we prepared our Disconnection Reconnection: Draft Decision, we proposed to not vary the obligations on retailers without compelling evidence and invited submissions.
- outlining principles that retailers should follow regarding offering a second instalment plan to customers
- retaining an Energy Retail Code provision related to offering instalment plans to domestic and small business customers
- considering the adequacy in all the circumstances of the retailer's assessment of the customer's capacity to pay instalments
- considering whether the retailer has assessed the customer's capacity to pay a lump sum in the case of an alleged wrongful disconnection
- retailers accepting overpayment of instalments and additional payments during an instalment plan
- prohibiting retailers from demanding a lump sum from a customer as a condition of applying for a utility relief grant
- deleting clause 15.2(b) of the Energy Retail Code and requiring retailers to pass on to distributors within one hour a customer's request for reconnection, which applies to smart meter customers (where the retailer considers that reconnection is safe)
- explicitly applying safety discretion to clause 13.1.2 of the Energy Retail Code.
The Energy Retail Code lists customer obligations for energy retailers
The code requires retailers to:
- offer more than one instalment plan to help customers with payment difficulties before taking disconnection action, and to meet certain detailed requirements for instalment plans [clauses 11.2(3), 12 and 13.1(a)]
- reconnect a smart meter customer within a certain timeframe, regardless of the fact that it is not the retailer's role to perform the reconnection [clause 15.2].