Open mobile menu

EWONews Issue 34

View the newsletter as a PDF

A message from the Ombudsman

EWON is potentially facing the biggest change we have seen in our 19 year history, with the expansion of our jurisdiction to include exempt entities.

Exempt entities sell electricity through embedded networks, private electricity networks that serve multiple premises through a distribution system with one ‘parent connection point’ in the National Electricity Market. Exempt entities pay to receive energy from the grid and then on-sell it to individual customers.

Embedded networks are found in caravan parks, retirement villages, apartment blocks and shopping centres, with the latter two undergoing significant growth in size and number.

These entities have not been required to be members of Ombudsman schemes, leaving their customers with limited or no recourse when issues arise. In response to the growth in the number of exempt entities and their customers over the last few years, the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) is considering changes to the exempt entity framework. These changes will ensure all customers have the same dispute resolution protection and that exempt entities are bound by Ombudsman decisions where conciliated outcomes to complaints cannot be negotiated.

This is great news for the increasing number of exempt entity customers - we estimate an additional 10,000 in the last year alone - who otherwise, are left with inadequate consumer protections. EWON is proud to have played a leading role in influencing these important changes with submissions and feedback to the AER, and through our work with the Australia and New Zealand Energy & Water Ombudsman Network (ANZEWON).

An expansion of our jurisdiction means EWON could potentially have many new members covering the 800 exemptions already granted - and this is coming from a current base of 50 energy and water company members.

This will impact on all aspects of our operations and require amendments to our Constitution and Charter. We have made structural adjustments and are now developing a budget and business plan for 2017/2018 which will allow us to effectively implement the necessary changes. And of course, we are continuing our existing investigations, policy development, systemic issues and awareness raising work.

In this environment, I am particularly pleased to welcome Bernadette Or, General Manager Finance and Corporate Services and Adrian Borchok, General Manager Investigations, to EWON’s management team. They will both play important roles in ensuring EWON is equipped to operate in this new environment.

Janine Young