The Electricity Industry Amendment Bill would amend the Electricity Industry Act 2010, which governs the Electricity Authority and the Electricity Industry Participation Code. The bill would:
- establish an advocacy agency for small electricity consumers, and enable a levy on industry participations to recover the Government’s costs relating to this advocacy
- add an additional objective for the Electricity Authority to protect the interests of household and small business consumers in their dealings with industry participations
- move provisions that relate to a distributor’s involvement in generation or retailing activities from Part 3 of the Act into the Electricity Industry Participation Code
- enable the Electricity Industry Participation Code to regulate distribution access terms and conditions, as it already does for transmission terms and conditions.
It would also amend other parts of the Act. This includes amendments to the powers of the Electricity Authority, and the Minister of Energy and Resources.
The consultation period will end on 17 November 2021.
We made a submission to the Economic Development, Science and Innovation Committee on the proposed changes to the Electricity Industry Amendment Bill. We recommended:
- establishing a consumer advocacy agency to deliver the work of the Council
- ensuring the independence of the consumer advocacy agency by requiring it in governing legislation
- providing regulation-making powers to recover the costs associated with the consumer advocacy agency by way of an industry levy
- removing any ambiguity between the Council and the Agency to clarify that the Council will deliver the work of the Agency
- amending the small business consumer definition to be consistent with the standardised definition of SMEs of less than 20 employees
- clarifying the roles and responsibilities of the regulators
- expanding the Electricity Authority's consumer protection objective to protect the interests of residential and small business consumers in relation to the supply of electricity
- ensuring the Electricity Authority can develop proportionate and targeted rules to address competition-related issues in contestable markets.