sa.gov.au

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
  • 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 NECF). 

Regulation under the NECF

Under the NECF, the Australian Energy Regulator has taken over primary responsibility for regulating energy retailers from the Essential Services Commission of South Australia (ESCOSA). The Australian Energy Regulator offers an energy price comparison service for electricity and gas

ESCOSA retains responsibility for regulating the Residential Energy Efficiency Scheme, issuing an annual report on energy retail prices and it may determine a minimum retailer payment for electricity fed into the grid from a solar PV system.

ESCOSA also remains responsible for applicable Codes. These can be found on ESCOSA's website.

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.

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

NECF legislation

South Australian NECF implementation

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

National Energy Retail Law (South Australia) Act 2011

The National Energy Retail Law (South Australia) Act 2011 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 NECF, the following provisions of the National Energy Retail Law (South Australia) Act 2011, which relate to retail energy price regulation, 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 effect of suspending these sections is the deregulation of retail energy prices in South Australia.

The key provisions of South Australia's application of the National Energy Retail Law in the National Energy Retail Law (South Australia) Act 2011 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 2013 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 their 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 timeframes 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.

The Regulations also amend the national rules as follows:

National Energy Retail Rules Modification 
Rules 16(2)(b)Strike out ", unless the customer is a small market offer customer"
Rule 90After 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 10.2After paragraph (b) insert:
(c) We are not required to give you notice if the planned interruption is less than 15 minutes. 
National Gas RulesModification
Part 21The 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.

Local energy provisions applicable to retailers

Whilst primarily retailers are regulated under the National Energy Retail Law, some local energy provisions apply to retailers operating in South Australia via the instruments outlined below.

  • Electricity Act 1996
  • Gas Act 1997
  • Electricity (General) Regulations 2012
  • Gas Regulations 2012

Electricity Act 1996 and Electricity (General) Regulations 2012

In commencing the NECF, the following provisions of the Electricity Act 1996, which relate to retail energy price regulation, have been suspended: sections 13(1) and 30(1) have been suspended. See the South Australian Gazettal Issue dated 31 January 2013, Number 8. The effect of suspending these sections is the deregulation of retail energy prices in South Australia.

The Electricity Act 1996 provides for obligations on National Energy Retail Law retailers primarily contained in the new part 6A in the Electricity Act 1996. These obligations include participation in the ombudsman scheme, compliance with customer concessions scheme and payment of an annual administration fee.

Requirements applicable to retailers in the regulations include:

  • A requirement on retailers to offer a market retail contract to small customers which does not directly or indirectly charge a small customer fee for early termination.
  • A requirement on retailers to abide by clause 8.2 of the Electricity Pricing Order, which relates to the States country equalisation scheme. See the relevant South Australian Gazettal Notice page 4458.

Gas Act 1997 and Gas Regulations 2012

The Gas Act 1997 provides for obligations on National Energy Retail Law retailers primarily contained in the new part 5A in the Gas Act 1997. These obligations include participation in the ombudsman scheme, compliance with customer concessions scheme and payment of an annual administration fee.

Requirements applicable to retailers in the regulations include:

  • A requirement on retailers to offer a market retail contract to small customers which does not directly or indirectly charge a small customer fee for early termination. 

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: 1st July 2014