Overview

We are amending the codes that regulate Victorian energy retailers, electricity distribution, gas distribution and embedded electricity networks to strengthen and clarify protections for Victorian customers who require life support equipment.

We have published a draft decision which sets out these proposed amendments to the Energy Retail Code, Electricity Distribution Code and Gas Distribution System Code.

Have your say on these amendments by reading our draft decision and responding to the proposed amendments.

You can make a submission through the web form, uploading a submission document or completing our life support customer survey.

What are we proposing to do?

Maintain and clarify existing protections

  • Existing life support protections in the Energy Retail Code and Electricity Distribution Code will be maintained.
  • The obligation in the Gas Distribution System Code requiring gas distributors to notify customers of interruptions will be maintained.
  • We have been guided by the recently amended National Energy Retail Rules to address some of the gaps and deficiencies in our existing Codes in relation to life support customers.

Add further protections

  • Retailers and exempt sellers who bill customers in embedded networks will be required to ask customers whether they require life support equipment in certain circumstances
  • Clarify responsibilities of customers and energy businesses in situations where life support equipment is fuelled by both electricity and gas
  • Customers will be permitted to use a medical certificate from a registered medical practitioner that states the customer requires life support equipment to fulfil the medical confirmation requirement.
  • Those who are exempt from holding an electricity licence (‘exempt persons’), such as embedded electricity network sellers and suppliers, will also have to register life support customers to ensure that a premises requiring life support equipment is registered all relevant parties (electricity retailers, distributors and suppliers).

Who will the new rules apply to?

  • licensed energy businesses, such as electricity and gas retailers and distributors
  • those who are exempt from holding an electricity licence (‘exempt persons’), such as embedded electricity network sellers and suppliers

When will the new rules will apply?

The new obligations will take effect from 1 January 2020, with some transitional arrangements for legacy life support customers to come into effect from 1 December 2019.

Have your say

Summary of draft decisions

We propose that the new life support framework will come into effect on 1 January 2020 with some transitional obligations coming into effect on 1 December 2019.

Refer to draft decision section 2.1

We propose that between 1 December 2019 and 31 December 2019, as part of the transition of legacy customers to the new framework, distributors and exempt suppliers will be required to provide relevant retailers and exempt sellers with information about customers already registered up to 31 December 2019.

This decision does not apply to gas distributors.


Refer to draft decision section 2.2

We propose that between 1 January 2020 and 1 April 2020, retailers and exempt sellers will need to:

  • reconcile their databases of existing legacy life support customers against the distributors’ information; and
  • communicate with all existing legacy life support customers and start the medical confirmation process if necessary
  • share information about life support customers with distributors and exempt suppliers as required.

Refer to draft decision section 2.2

We propose that life support obligations will apply to Victorian gas distributors.

Refer to draft decision section 4.2

We will maintain critical protections that prohibit the disconnection of a life support customer, which is aligned with the national framework.

Refer to draft decision section 4.3.1

We will maintain the critical protection that ensure customers are given at least four business days’ written notification of planned electricity distributor and exempt supplier interruptions.

Refer to draft decision section 4.3.1

We will maintain the protection in the Electricity Distribution Code that allows life support customers to request a longer period of notice for a planned interruption.

Refer to draft decision section 4.3.1

We will maintain the existing obligation in the Gas Distribution System Code that requires gas distributors to give at least 10 days’ notice.

Refer to draft decision section 4.3.1

We propose to include an additional clause in the Electricity Distribution Code and Gas Distribution System Code that requires distributors to provide customers with the option of providing explicit informed consent for a planned interruption to occur on a specified date.

Refer to draft decision section 4.3.1

We propose to include an obligation in the Gas Distribution System Code that allows life support customers to request a longer period of notice for a planned interruption.

Refer to draft decision section 4.3.1

We propose to align with the national framework in relation to registering and de-registering life support customers.

Refer to draft decision section 4.3.3

We propose to align with the national framework in relation to seeking medical confirmation from life support customers.

Refer to draft decision section 4.3.4

We propose to align with the national framework in relation to maintaining the accuracy of life support customer registers.

Refer to draft decision section 4.3.5

We propose to align with the national framework in relation to providing life support customers with relevant information.

Refer to draft decision section 4.3.6

We propose that we will not adopt the obligation under the national framework for retailers and distributors to advise life support customers that there may be retailer planned interruptions. However, we question if this obligation is required for exempt persons and seek stakeholder views.

Refer to draft decision section 4.4.1

We propose to include an obligation that requires retailers and exempt sellers to ask all customers when they first enter a contract or when they re-contract with the same retailer or exempt seller, whether any person residing at the premises requires life support equipment.

Refer to draft decision section 5.1

We propose to include obligations in our codes that require energy businesses, when contacted by a customer, to establish whether the customer’s life support equipment is fuelled by both electricity and gas. If so, we propose additional obligations to ensure all relevant energy businesses are notified.

Refer to draft decision section 5.2

We propose to include an obligation that requires the registration process owner to notify the other party that the customer requires life support customer equipment within one business day after notification from the customer.

Refer to draft decision section 5.3

We propose to include obligations that require retailers, distributors and exempt persons to update their life support registers within one business day of becoming aware the customer is a life support customer.

Refer to draft decision section 5.3

We propose to adopt the existing definition of life support equipment in the Energy Retail Code and apply it to all three energy codes.

Refer to draft decision section 5.4

We propose to amend the required content of the medical confirmation form to include medical confirmation or a current medical certificate certifying that a person residing at the customer’s premises has a medical condition which requires continued supply of electricity or gas.

Refer to draft decision section 5.5

We propose to largely apply the obligations that will exist under the national framework for licensed electricity retailers and distributors to exempt persons.

We also propose to include additional obligations to ensure that life support customers are registered with the:

  • exempt seller
  • exempt supplier
  • licensed retailer at the gate meter who sells electricity to the exempt seller
licensed distributor whose network supplies the embedded network.


Refer to draft decision section 6.1

We do not propose to adopt the Australian Energy Market Commission’s final recommendation to make exempt suppliers the registration process owner for life support customers who live in embedded networks. We also do not propose to include additional provisions that would cover on-market embedded network customers, such as the ability for a licensed retailer or distributor to notify an exempt supplier that the customer no longer requires life support equipment.

Refer to draft decision section 6.2

We propose to require exempt sellers and suppliers (where applicable) to notify life support customers of a planned interruption in the distributor’s network within one business day after receiving notification from the distributor that an interruption will affect the gate meter.

The exempt person will be required to provide the following details to the customer:

  • the expected date, time and duration of the interruption
  • a 24-hour telephone number for the distributor.