On 17 April 2020, the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) received a rule change request from the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, the Hon Angus Taylor MP, to amend the National Energy Retail Rules (NERR).
The rule change proposal seeks to simplify energy bills, so households and small business owners can better understand and manage their bills, and find a better energy deal. It covers both gas and electricity bills.
Under the NERR, retailers are required to prepare an energy bill complying with 26 content requirements. The proponent considers the rules should be changed to contain an objective and outcome-based principles for energy bills, which would underpin a mandatory Australian Energy Regulator (AER) guideline with specific requirements on content and format.
QCOSS supports the stated aim of the proposed rule change to simplify energy bills. In the case of energy, we know that the market itself can create or exacerbate vulnerabilities and hardship. Energy bills are one part of this.
We believe that:
- electricity is an essential service;
- the energy system exists to serve the community;
- no-one should be disconnected for inability to pay; and
- all Queensland consumers should know their rights and be able to access consumer protections.
In addition, we support a fast and fair transition to net zero emissions, the principles behind tariff reform, and the potential for innovation to improve outcomes for all people.
To ensure that everyone benefits from these processes and that they are successfully achieved, in the context of this rule change, everyone should have the ability to understand the services they receive, and to understand and compare available market options in a way that leads to positive outcomes for them. We believe energy companies should not put the onus on the consumer to navigate the complexities of accessing an essential service.