Guide to application of the NECF

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Summary of interaction between NECF and relevant state and territory laws (PDF)

Detailed spreadsheet of state and territory modifications to NECF (XLSX)

What is the National Energy Customer Framework?

The objective of this guide

How to use this guide

Disclaimer

Further information

 

What is the National Energy Customer Framework?

The National Energy Customer Framework (NECF) is a suite of legal instruments that regulate the sale and supply of electricity and gas to retail customers.

The main NECF documents are the:

Parts of the NECF are also contained in new chapters of the National Electricity Rules (Electricity Rules) and National Gas Rules (Gas Rules).

There are also relevant guidelines made by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) and procedures made by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

The NECF currently applies in:

 The National Energy Customer Framework does not currently apply in Western Australia or the Northern Territory and, as noted above, only applies in a limited manner in Victoria. The Northern Territory has adapted a modified form of chapter 5A of the National Electricity Rules with effect from 1 July 2019. National Electricity Rules (Northern Territory) Version 12

The NECF was developed by State, Territory and Commonwealth energy Ministers through the Council of Australian Government’s Standing Council on Energy and Resources (now the COAG Energy Council).

The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) can amend the Retail Rules, Electricity Rules or Gas Rules if it receives a request to do so from any person.

The objective of this guide

The NECF is applied in each participating state or territory through state or territory laws. Those state or territory laws can also modify the application of parts of the Retail Law and Retail Rules in that state or territory. The objective of this guide is to help people affected by the NECF better understand how it applies in each state or territory as a result of these modifications.

These modifications have effectively resulted in there being different versions of the NECF that apply in each state or territory. Accordingly, in order to understand how the NECF applies in a particular state and territory, it is necessary to know how the Retail Law and Retail Rules have been modified in that state and territory.

These modifications to the NECF are not set out in the Retail Law or Retail Rules themselves. Instead, it is necessary to check the relevant state and territory laws to see which provisions have been amended.

Some parts of the NECF also only apply if the relevant state or territory decides to “opt-in” to those provisions. An example is the provisions regarding the AER’s price comparator website Energy Made Easy. Whether a state or territory has decided to opt-in to those provisions is set out in state or territory laws.

These modifications and opt-in provisions can make it more complex for users of the Retail Law and Retail Rules to understand how the NECF applies to them.

The AEMC has developed this guide to help people affected by the NECF, particularly consumers and their representatives, better understand how the NECF applies in each state and territory.

Any person that is considering making a request to the AEMC for a change to the Retail Laws should first check how the relevant provision applies in each state and territory. The state and territory modifications may mean that the relevant Retail Law provision does not apply in some or all states and territories, which may limit the effectiveness of any AEMC rule change. The AEMC cannot make amendments to state and territory laws that modify the NECF provisions.

Example of modifications to the NECF
Rule 73 of the Retail Rules requires retailers to waive late payment fees for hardship customers. This provision has been modified in NSW, South Australia and Tasmania.

  • In NSW, the National Energy Retail Law (Adoption) Regulation 2013 requires retailers to also waive late payment fees for other types of customers, for example customers receiving certain government rebates, where the bill is the subject of a dispute being considered by the Ombudsman, or customers on payment plans.
  • In South Australia, the National Energy Retail Law (South Australia) Act 2011 provides that retailers may impose late payment fees, but for small customers the fee must not exceed the reasonable costs of the retailer in recovering the overdue amount. In addition, the retailer must not take steps to recover a late payment fee where the customer has lodged a complaint in relation to the bill under the Retail Law.
  • In Tasmania, the National Energy Retail Law (Tasmania) Act 2012 requires retailers to also waive late payment fees for other types of customers including customers holding health care cards, pensioners and customers on payment plans.


How to use this guide

This guide contains two documents:

The first document is a high-level diagram and table listing the relevant NECF documents, relevant state and territory laws, and other related documents such as the Australian Consumer Law. This document gives a broad overview of the NECF framework and the interaction with the relevant state and territory laws and other relevant documents.

The second document is a detailed spreadsheet setting out the state and territory modifications to each provision of the Retail Law and Retail Rules, and the new parts of the Electricity Rules and Gas Rules that form part of the NECF.

This spreadsheet sets out how each provision of the Retail Law and Retail Rules operates with:

The spreadsheet is structured as follows:

Due to the number of modifications made by state and territory laws, tabs 1 and 2 of the spreadsheet only summarise the issue that has been modified and provide a reference to the relevant state or territory law. Users should refer to that state or territory law to understand exactly how that issue has been modified. Relevant state and territory legislation can be accessed on a range of websites including http://www.austlii.edu.au.

Disclaimer

This version of the guide is current as at 1 August 2017.

This guide is made available for use on the following basis:

Further information

For information contact:

Richard Owens, Senior Director, 02 8296 7800

Catriona Webster, General Counsel, 02 8296 7800

© 2017 Australian Energy Market Commission. All rights reserved.

This NECF guide is protected by copyright. The Copyright Act 1968 permits fair dealing for study, research, news reporting, criticism and review. Selected parts of the work may be reproduced for such purposes provided acknowledgement of the source is included.