The AER has begun their review into the Retailer Authorisation and Exemption framework as part of the Energy Security Board’s Post-2025 Market Design project. This review was initiated in order to ensure regulatory frameworks remain fit for purpose as new energy products and services emerge.
Our submission to the AER sets out our thinking on the need for a new consumer protection framework as we transition to a distributed energy future. While we believe the AER’s Issues Paper puts forward a number of relevant issues in the current framework in need of immediate solutions, we also believe there is a broader question at play. Developing a consumer protections framework that is fit for purpose in light of new energy products and services will need to go further than amending existing regulations. In order to achieve this, a broader look at consumer protections that goes beyond the scope of this review is needed.
We believe a new fit-for-purpose framework should be based on the foundations of:
- Consumer agency
Consumers should have the ability to make the decisions that benefit them when accessing energy services. This concept should be at the core of the regulatory framework instead of being limited to mitigating potential risks and harms.
- Consumer protections and rights
Regulatory frameworks need to keep pace with the way in which energy will be bought rather than how it has traditionally been sold. This means replacing the current narrow framework, one which focuses on consumers simply buying energy from their retailer, with a robust and comprehensive framework for protections and rights for consumers of both traditional and new energy services.
- Access to dispute resolution
Just as we support consideration of a universal duty of care, there should also be universal access to free and independent dispute resolution however energy is bought.