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Our history

The Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW (ABN 21-079-718-915) was set up in 1998 as the first industry complaints scheme in New South Wales. It is a free, independent service to help people sort out any unresolved problems with their electricity, gas or water provider.

It began as the Energy Industry Ombudsman NSW (EION) scheme and was set up by the six NSW electricity providers, and the transmission operator.

The founding members of EION had decided that part of good customer service was the provision of a free dispute resolution service that was independent of the industry.

Clare Petre was considered the best person to lead the new organisation, with her extensive experience in the community sector, government and the media.

In early 1998, Ms Petre left her position as a Senior Assistant Commonwealth Ombudsman to become the first Energy Industry Ombudsman NSW.

In December 1999 Sydney Water joined the scheme and EION was renamed the Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW (EWON).

EWON now provides a one-stop complaint resolution service for all electricity and gas customers throughout New South Wales and some water providers.

Legislative provisions relevant to EWON:

 

Timeline of EWON's history

1996

Structural reform of the electricity industry sees six retailer/distributior entities created as State owned corporations under the Energy Services Corporations Act 1995.

The Electricity Association of New South Wales, representing the electricity providers, proposes the establishment of an ombudsman scheme similar to the Victorian Electricity Industry Ombudsman and other industry dispute resolution schemes.

1997

A working group of industry, government and consumer representatives advises on the structure and operation of the new scheme. The Board of Directors of Energy Industry Ombudsman (NSW) Limited, comprising representatives of all members of the scheme, is formally established and registered. EWON's Constitution is established.

1998

The Council of the Energy Industry Ombudsman NSW meets, comprising Chair Gae Pincus and equal representatives of consumer and industry interests.
Clare Petre is appointed Energy Industry Ombudsman NSW and Helen Swan is appointed Business Manager. EION is officially launched by the [then] Minister for Energy, the Hon Bob Debus on 9th June.

Along with the Victorian and Tasmanian Electricity Ombudsman schemes, EION establishes the National Electricity Ombudsman Network (NEON). This network evolves to become the Australia & New Zealand Energy and Water Ombudsman Network (ANZEWON).

The NSW government regulates to require inclusion of information about EION on all reminder and disconnection notices.

1999

Sydney Water joins the scheme and EION becomes EWON, the Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW. The Ombudsman implements a communications strategy to raise awareness of EWON in the community, which includes visits to regional and rural NSW.

2000

NSW Ombudsman and EWON sign a Memorandum of Understanding.
AGL, a private company gas provider, joins the scheme.

Under the Electricity Supply Amendment Act 2000, it becomes a licence condition for all electricity retailers to join an approved ombudsman scheme. EWON’s jurisdiction is extended to cover electricity issues for residents of residential parks, and small businesses supplied by other exempt retailers.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Lionel Bowen is appointed Chair of the EWON Council.

EWON runs its first outreach program to multicultural communities and promotes its services to Arabic, Chinese, Italian and Vietnamese groups.

2001

Under the Gas Supply Amendment (Retail Competition) Act, it becomes a condition of licence for gas retailers to join an industry approved scheme.
The Minister for Energy approves EWON as electricity and gas industry ombudsman for NSW.

EWON hosts its first industry and consumer seminar on payment options for customers in financial hardship and its first forum for member providers.
The first independent review of the scheme is conducted, including the first customer satisfaction survey.

2002

Office of Fair Trading and EWON sign a Memorandum of Understanding.
The NSW market is opened to full retail competition and second-tier energy retailers join the scheme.

Hunter Water joins the scheme.

2003

Emeritus Professor Stuart Rees is appointed Chair of the EWON Council.
EWON celebrates its 5th anniversary.

EWON appoints its first Aboriginal Project Officer to conduct an outreach project to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

As part of the Indigenous outreach, Vee Thornbury, a Wiradjuri artist, is commissioned to produce an artwork telling the story of EWON.

2004

EWON hosts a forum where Professor Tony Vinson presents findings from his research report on social disadvantage, Community Adversity and Resilience.
Launch of EWON’s revised website featuring an online complaint form in English and 12 community languages.

2005

IPART (Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal) and EWON sign a Memorandum of Understanding.

2006

EWON hosts a forum for retailers on issues arising from energy marketing.

2007

EWON hosts a forum for retailers and distributors on business-to-business issues impacting on customers.

2008

The Ombudsman meets with the Unsworth Committee regarding its review of the customer impact of the proposed privatisation of state owned energy retailers.
EWON hosts a roundtable discussion with second-tier retailers and community advocates.

2009

Gas Supply Amendment (Ombudsman Scheme) Bill 2009 passed requiring gas distributors (reticulators) to be members of EWON as a condition of licence.
EWON's Constitution is changed to allow for a broader range of water providers to join the scheme.

2011

NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water and EWON sign an MOU regarding the Home Power Savings Scheme.

Australian Energy Regulator (AER), ACCC and EWON sign an MOU.

2012

Energy Assured Ltd (EAL) and EWON sign an MOU.

NSW Ombudsman and EWON sign an MOU.

Following a governance review, EWON develops a Charter and revises its Constitution. Under the amended constitution, a new Board structure is created to give equal industry and consumer representation. Professor Julian Disney is appointed Chair of the EWON Board. A new Consultative Council is formed to bring together industry and community representatives.

2013

EWON organises a National Energy Affordability Roundtable in partnership with other Energy Ombudsman, the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS), and the Energy Retailers Association of Australia (ERAA).

2014

Janine Young appointed Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW.