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Submission to the AEMC Consultation on Consumer Protections in an Evolving Market

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Energy Consumers Australia

We appreciate the opportunity to make a submission on the Australian Energy Market Commission’s (AEMC) Consumer Protections in an Evolving Market Issues Review.

The traditional way consumers interact with energy is changing. More households and businesses are generating their own power and new energy service models are emerging that seek to help people manage their energy use, integrate new ‘smart’ technologies, and trade or share energy. These new approaches may not be covered by the current consumer protections frameworks which were built on old assumptions about roles in a one-way energy system.

Our view is that a principles-based regulatory approach provides a solution. Used in conjunction with subordinate instruments, such as mandatory guidelines or industry codes, this approach can remain flexible and responsive to change, yet provide guidance to businesses on compliance.

In this submission we make four key points:

  1. Energy sector disruption is creating gaps in the consumer protection framework that need to be addressed because energy remains a critical enabler for Australian households and businesses.
  2. The likelihood that change will continue and indeed accelerate, as well as the fact that new types of risks for consumers are emerging, mean that adapting consumer protection frameworks is more than simply a task of ‘extending coverage’.
  3. The AEMC Review is an opportunity to explore more flexible, ‘principles-based’ models, which can be more easily adapted to mitigate changing risks for consumers and place the onus on
    service providers to meet higher standards.
  4. The New Energy Tech Consumer Code (NETCC), which Energy Consumers Australia is helping establish, is an early and important example of a flexible, industry-led approach to consumer protection that should be supported by the sector and studied for lessons about
    future frameworks.

The full submission can be read here.

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