Sweeping new retail reforms adopted in VIC

electricity bills, energy regulator, dmo, default offer, standing offer, energy retailers

The Essential Services Commission (ESC) has announced sweeping new energy retail reforms, aiming to “make electricity and gas retailers responsible for helping customers get on to their best energy deals”.

Following the Victorian Government’s support for a review into the retail electricity and gas markets in Victoria, the ESC has released a final decision on its first tranche of reforms, to be enacted from July 1, 2019.

These include obliging energy retailers to:

  • tell customers whether they’re on the retailer’s best energy plan and how much the customer could save by switching to that plan (best offer message), at least quarterly for electricity bills and at least every 4 months for gas bills
  • give customers at least five days warning before making changes that will affect the customer’s bill (and include the ‘best offer’ message)
  • provide clear and helpful advice about the retailer’s best energy plan before signing a customer on to a new energy deal (taking into account all relevant terms and conditions).

Related article:Vic Govt announces abolition of standing energy offers

Commission chair Ron Ben-David says the reforms are a game changer.

“The new rules hold energy retailers responsible for rebuilding consumers’ trust and confidence in the retail energy market,” he said.

From 1 July 2019, retailers will also have to present all prices with GST included to make it easier to compare offers between retailers.

Dr Ben-David says the reforms will make life unpleasant for the energy companies who rely on ‘tricky contracts and sneaky price increases’.

“As an essential service, it’s time energy companies focused on services not sales,” said Dr Ben-David.

Read the Essential Services Commission’s full report here.

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