3. Embedded networks - latest action

Costs increase after an existing site is converted to an embedded network

Through our customer complaints data and insights EWON has a unique perspective on the issues faced by residents in embedded networks, including the current lack of access to consumer protections and how this impacts customers. We have continuously voiced our strong support for customers living in embedded networks receiving consumer protections that are equivalent to, and aligned with, on-market customers.

We have previously supported the NSW Government’s NSW Embedded Network Action Plan and Draft Ministerial Statement of Expectations. We look forward to its implementation to better align consumer protections for customers living in embedded networks, with that of other energy residential and small business customers.

We also welcome the two current consultations that are reviewing aspects of energy and embedded networks, and we are actively participating in these processes:

  1. The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) is currently undertaking a NSW specific review that will recommend appropriate price protections for customers supplied electricity, gas or hot or chilled water through an embedded network. It is also reviewing if it will recommend the prohibition of new hot and chilled water embedded networks in NSW.  

  2. The AER is undertaking a review of the exemptions framework (Retail Exempt Selling Guideline and the Network Exemption Guideline) due to the rapid growth of the industry and ongoing concerns about customer outcomes. It is consulting on the frameworks effectiveness whilst assessing the balance of harms and benefits to consumers.

EWON continues to receive complaints from customers that live in all types of embedded networks, and these customers are faced with similar issues to those connected directly to the electricity network, however, do not have an equal ability to be able to rely on consumer protections to help resolve these complaints.

We see a large range of complaints, from issues around hot water billing, lack of protections such as affordability programs and back billing provisions, lack of access to retail competition, lack of transparency around embedded networks and unexpected costs that are faced by embedded network customer.

Case study

Case study Costs to residents after building becomes an embedded network

In November 2022, a strata arranged for the whole property to be supplied gas as an embedded network which would now bill gas directly to the residents. Previously, all residents had gas meters and were with their chosen retailers.

All residents then closed their retail gas accounts, however they all had problems receiving refunds from their retailers and they continued to receive bills for daily supply charges. The strata thought its residents should not be charged for a service that was not being provided. It had also been advised that each property needed to pay $1,100 to remove the meters, with the gas distributor being the only ones able to remove the meter.

The strata believed this information was incorrect and inconsistent with the fee quoted by the Australian Energy Regulator. It thought it could arrange for someone to remove the meters from its own infrastructure at a much cheaper price.

"" EWON referred multiple complaints to different retailers on behalf of individual customers to resolve the matter directly with the strata.