Overview

The Essential Services Commission has strengthened protections for all energy customers by amending the rules around contracts and discounts that Victorian energy retailers must follow. These protections ensure that contract periods, practices (including discounting) and variations are clear and fair. These changes were made to implement recommendation 4 from the independent bipartisan review of electricity and gas retail markets in Victoria.

How does this affect you?

These changes intend to help customers find their way through the energy retail market by ensuring that available information is clear and fair and provide protections for customers who do not engage in the market.

Key facts about the final decision

Our new rules will give price certainty to Victorian customers on existing and new contracts, make contract practices clearer and simpler for customers, and add safeguard protections for customers.
  • Retailers are only allowed to increase prices once a year.
  • For many customers, this will happen on a set date one month after network tariff prices change. Customers on fixed-price contracts will only experience any price increases on the anniversary of their initial fixed-price period expiring.
  • Retailers must clearly communicate the time at which prices may change with their customers.
  • Any customer signing up to a new offer with a discount, credit or rebate will receive that benefit for the entire duration of their contract.
  • Retailers must advertise electricity offers with reference to the Victorian Default Offer, to help customers compare like with like.
  • Pay-on-time discounts will be capped at a level set by the commission, so customers who miss a bill payment will not face a large increase in costs.
  • Retailers must honour pay-on-time discounts for customers receiving tailored assistance who miss a bill payment.
  • Retailers must roll customers on fixed-term electricity contracts who do not choose another offer at the end of the contract onto the Victorian Default Offer.

How we engaged

The commission consulted on how to implement this recommendation over 2019 and 2020, through an issues paper (published in June 2019) and a draft decision (published in December 2019).

Based on the feedback received during consultation on those papers the commission we published our final decision on 28 February 2020.

What we did with your feedback

The commission received 21 written submissions to the draft decision. These are available on our website. We took stakeholder feedback on board in reaching our final decision. The feedback we received during the consultation period led to changes including:

  • giving retailers more flexibility in the way they offer customers price certainty
  • amending the scope of our new rule to align contract and benefit periods
  • consulting further on proposed back-billing changes.

Consultation on this project has now closed.

About us

The Essential Services Commission is an independent regulator that promotes the long term interests of Victorian consumers with respect to the price, quality and reliability of essential services. We regulate Victoria’s energy, water and transport sectors, and administer the local government Fair Go Rates system.