2022 hasn’t been the fresh start we all hoped for, with COVID-19 still dominating our lives and newsfeeds. Like many organisations, EWON has been functioning at decreased capacity and we have delayed our return to the office until March. More positively, however, we have several policy submissions in progress, and we participated in the Yabun Festival, Sydney’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander survival day celebration, for the first time in two years. It was wonderful to finally connect with customers face-to-face after the most recent lockdown.

In November, the Federal Government announced the Customer Data Right for Energy (CDR) will commence in late 2022. The CDR is welcome legislation, aimed at giving customers access to their own data for price comparison or aggregation, but it will also introduce dispute resolution challenges initially for ourselves and the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) and, in future, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO). For example, a customer complaint about the CDR could be made against a financial body to AFCA but ramifications may have also impacted their energy account. While AFCA has the expertise to address and resolve the CDR issue, the relevant energy ombudsman would need to address the energy complaint. To streamline this process for customers, we’ll be working with AFCA and the TIO to ensure a “no wrong door” complaint referral process to ensure customers reach the appropriate ombudsman service easily while ensuring all aspects of the complaint are appropriately addressed.

This process will also help us manage the growth in energy providers offering bundled telco and financial products to their customers. Similarly, we’ve recently seen energy retail licences being granted to companies whose traditional business is telecommunications or finance and major energy companies are now also internet service providers. It is critical that we ensure complaints about these entities are dealt with in a smooth, pain-free manner for customers. We anticipate that these and other changes, including the case studies involving renewables outlined in this report, will increase out of jurisdiction complaints to EWON. Addressing this via our joint expanded jurisdiction project with EWOV, EWOSA and EWOQ is high on our agenda.

Lastly, I’d like to warmly welcome our new EWON directors, all of whom have joined the EWON Board over recent months: Anne Pearson (EnergyAustralia), April Blair (Intellectual Disability Rights Service), Joanne Quilty (NCOSS) and Theo Whitmont (Kincumber Residential Park).

Stay well everyone,

Janine Young
Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW

Photo of Janine Young, Energy and Water Ombudsman NSW