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The National Energy Customer Framework - information for energy retailers and distributors

The National Energy Customer Framework (NECF) commenced on 1 February 2013 in South Australia and is a national regime for the sale and supply of electricity and gas by retailers and distributors to retail customers. It is a significant step towards a simplified regulatory regime for retailers and distributors.

The NECF deals primarily with the following matters:

  • the retailer-customer relationship and associated rights, obligations and consumer protection measures
  • distributor interactions with customers and retailers, and associated rights, obligations and consumer protection measures
  • retailer authorisations
  • compliance monitoring and reporting, enforcement and performance reporting.

The NECF applies to:

  •  all energy distributors and retailers operating in the state, except those not connected to the national energy networks, and
  • all South Australian electricity and gas consumers who are connected to the national energy networks and who consume less than 160MWh of electricity per annum and/or 1TJ of gas per annum respectively. Most homes and many small businesses consume less energy than these thresholds and will therefore be covered by the NECD. 

Regulation under the NECF

Under the NECF, the Australian Energy Regulator will take over the responsibility for regulating energy retailers from the Essential Services Commission of South Australia (ESCOSA), except for functions such as the administration of the Residential energy efficiency scheme. The Australian Energy Regulator offers an energy price comparison service for electricity and gas

The NECF regulates the sale and supply of energy through a set of national rules. The Australian Energy Market Commission is the responsible rule making body for these rules. 

NECF legislation

South Australian NECF implementation instruments

South Australia applied the NECF via the instruments outlined below, taking effect from 1 February 2013.

National Energy Retail Law (South Australia) (Implementation) Amendment Act 2012

The National Energy Retail Law (South Australia) (Implementation) Amendment Act 2012 applies the National Energy Retail Law in South Australia. It also provides for transitional provisions to enable a smooth transition to the NECF as well as containing necessary modifications to South Australia's application of the National Electricity Law and National Gas Law resulting from NECF implementation. 

In commencing the National Energy Retail Law (South Australia) (Implementation) Amendment Act 2012 the following provisions inserted into the National Energy Retail Law (South Australia) Act 2011 by section 4 have been suspended: section 18, 21, 28(2)(a), 35(5), 35(8), 37(5) and 37(8). See the South Australian Gazettal Issue dated 31 January 2013, Number 8.

The key provisions of National Energy Retail Law (South Australia) (Implementation) Amendment Act 2012 are:
  • The National Energy Retail Law, in relation to electricity, only applies to electricity supplied via the interconnected national electricity system within the meaning of the National Electricity Law.
  • It ensures smooth transition of current energy contracts to the new regime under the NECF. 
  • A retailer may impose a fee for late payment of a bill on the condition that the fee does not exceed the reasonable costs of the retailer in recovering an overdue amount and that the customer does not have an open complaint in relation to their bill.

National Energy Retail Law (Local Provisions) Regulations 2013

The key provisions of the National Energy Retail Law (Local Provisions) Regulations 2012 are:
  • Regulation 5 prescribes 160MWh per annum as the upper consumption threshold for electricity for determining whether a business customer is large or small.
  • Regulation 6 nominates the following retailers as local area retailers for all small customers in South Australia pursuant to section 11 of the National Energy Retail Law:
    • AGL South Australia for electricity
    • Origin Energy Retail for gas
  • Regulation 7 imposes the service standards that retailers must use best endeavours to meet in relation to responding to written and telephone enquiries for small customers.
  • Regulation 8 declares what is considered to be an extreme weather event for the purposes of Part 6 of the National Energy Retail Rules.
  • Regulation 9 prescribes the time frames retailers must adhere to when arranging for the re-energisation of premises that have been de-energised for non-payment.
  • Regulation 11 permits the use of prepayment meter systems in South Australia, as required by section 56(2) of the National Energy Retail Law.  

Statutes Amendment (National Energy Retail Law Implementation) Act 2012

The Statutes Amendment (National Energy Retail Law Implementation) Act 2012 makes amendments to South Australia's Electricity Act 1996, Gas Act 1997 and Essential Services Commission Act 2002 consequential to South Australia's application of the NECF.

In commencing the Statutes Amendment (National Energy Retail Law Implementation) Act 2012, sections 13(1) and 30(1) have been suspended. See the South Australian Gazettal Issue dated 31 January 2013, Number 8.

The key provisions of the Statutes Amendment (National Energy Retail Law Implementation) Act 2012 are:
  • It provides for obligations on National Energy Retail Law retailers primarily contained in the new parts 6A in the Electricity Act 1996 and 5A in the Gas Act 1997. These obligations include participation in the ombudsman scheme and compliance with customer concessions scheme.

Electricity (General) Variation Regulations 2013 and Gas Variation Regulations 2013

National Energy Retail Law retailers are required to offer a market retail contract to small customers under which the National Energy Retail Law retailer agrees not to directly or indirectly charge a small customer fee for early termination.

Country Equalisation Scheme

Retailers operating in South Australia will be required to abide by clause 8.2 of the Electricity Pricing Order. See the relevant South Australian Gazettal Notice page 4458.

South Australia's modifications to the national rules

National Energy Retail Rules  Modification 
Rules 16(2)(b) Strike out ", unless the customer is a small market offer customer"
Rule 90 After subrule (3) insert:
(4) A distributor of electricity is not required to comply with this rule if the duration of the interruption is less that 15 minutes.
(5) Subrule (4) will expire on 30 June 2015.
Schedule 3, clause 8  After paragraph (c) insert:
(d) We are also entitled to limit our liability for an act of omission done or made in bad faith or through negligence to $500,000 (indexed) in respect of claims by customers who purchase less that 30 MWh of electricity per annum or to $1,000,000 (indexed) in respect of customers who purchase at least 30 MWh of electricity per annum.
Schedule 2, clause 10.2 After paragraph (b) insert:
(c) We are not required to give you notice if the planned interruption is less than 15 minutes. 

National Gas Rules Modification
Part 21 The National Gas Rules, insofar as they have effect as part of the law of South Australia, are modified so that Part 21 of those Rules does not apply in relation to any distributor or retailer in South Australia until 1 July 2013.

Industry Codes

The Essential Services Commission of South Australia (ESCOSA) will remain responsible for applicable Codes. These can be found on ESCOSA's website.

The Electricity (General) Regulations 2012 and the Gas Regulations 2012 prescribe that codes relating to metering and residential energy efficiency apply to National Energy Retail Law retailers. 

South Australian ombudsman for energy

The Energy and Water Ombudsman (SA) remains the South Australian ombudsman relating to complaints about the sale and supply of energy to customers in South Australia.

Background to the implementation of the NECF in South Australia

To implement the NECF, South Australia consulted extensively on its policy positions. The consultation closed on 22 December 2011.

Submissions were received on the draft Bills from the following organisations:

  • AGL
  • COTA
  • Envestra
  • ETSA Utilities (now SA Power Networks)
  • Origin Energy
  • SACOSS
  • TRUenergy.

Response to submissions on SA's NECF
Response to submissions on SA's NECF

For more information on the development of the NECF see the Ministerial Council on Energy Retail Policy Working Group.


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Page last updated: 6th March 2014