EWON Insights Oct-Dec 2023

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Welcome to our latest issue of EWON Insights.

EWON received 7,228 complaints this quarter continuing the 12-month trend of higher complaint numbers. This is an increase of 2.8% compared to last quarter and is 61.7% higher than the October to December 2022 quarter. High bills were the largest complaint driver, but we also saw a 50.9% increase in issues relating to estimated billing which we will continue to monitor.

The increased demand for EWON’s dispute resolution services is matched by an increase in demand for submissions, consultations and data. We’ve already completed four submissions this year including a joint submission with our energy and water ombudsman peers in Queensland, Victoria and South Australia to the Australian Energy Regulator’s (AER) consultation on its interim export limit guidance note. Also, two submissions on embedded networks to the AER and the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal and a submission to the AER’s draft network determinations. We expect this to continue considering the transitioning energy sector. Take a look at our submissions page.

EWON’s monetary limit for Binding Decisions has increased from $40K to $100K in accordance with changes to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) financial limit and EWON’s Constitution and Charter. Because of the effectiveness of our investigation and conciliation processes a Binding Decision has not been made to resolve an EWON complaint since 2007. The monetary limit increase means we will remain accessible to customers where the quantum of their complaint is up to $100K.

Helen Ford our Deputy Ombudsman has announced she will be leaving EWON in May 2024 to take a gap year. Initially, Helen will travel overseas and spend time with her UK-based family before coming back to Sydney to investigate what’s next for her career. Helen’s early advice means we have time to plan next steps which we will share in due course. In the meantime, I would like to acknowledge Helen’s extensive contribution to EWON to date and continuing through to early May.

Finally, we have made some changes to the layout of this report to increase accessibility and ease of reading. We hope you enjoy the fresh look and we would value any feedback so that we can ensure we continue to provide relevant and topical information.

Janine Young
Ombudsman & Chief Executive Officer
Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW

In this report


This quarter we are focused on the following topics:

  1. Electricity - accelerated smart meter roll out
    We explore barriers EWON customers are facing as part of the accelerated smart meter rollout, which remain unresolved after the Australian Energy Market Commission’s final report on its review of the regulatory framework for metering services. These barriers include site defects and the prohibitive cost involved to rectify them.  

  2. Water - the separation of ‘customers’ and ‘consumers’ 
    Tenants are missing out on important consumer protections, such as access to water concession discounts. Contracts for water services cover owners and landlords but do not apply to tenants occupying a property, meaning landlords are eligible for concessions where tenants bear the costs. 

  3. Embedded networks - latest action 
    We outline the current consultations we are participating in, reviewing aspects of energy and embedded networks. EWON has continuously voiced our strong support for customers living in embedded networks receiving consumer protections that are equivalent to, and aligned with, on-market customers.