National Electricity Market Reform Advocacy

An objective of the ECC is to advocate for the rights of ethnic communities including effective participation in decisions which affect them. Due to language and cultural differences ethnic communities will need clear, concise and understandable information on the current complex national electricity market reform processes. This project will focus on advocacy and building the capacity of the CALD domestic and small business sectors to ensure ongoing consumer protection.

The ECC has implemented a number of electricity and water saving projects with CALD small businesses and has built up good networks and relationships with this sector.  As a result the ECC is familiar with business electricity consumption patterns and the circumstances faced in the competitive electricity retail market and therefore can readily liaise with various businesses and industry associations to identify their concerns and responses to the NEM reform. 

The ECC and is regularly asked to represent CALD concerns on government advisory panels and will be able to represent the concerns and recommendations of the sector on existing advisory panels related to energy reform..

NEM Involvement

Since May 2007, ECC has engaged in a range of advocacy and responses via submissions and/or representation, to a number of government processes around the electricity market. Commencing Jan 2009, ECC received funding support from the Consumer Advocacy Panel to further enhance and improve its advocacy capability in the NEM.

The aim is to make sure the views of CALD communities and small businesses are represented during the NEM reform process. ECC advocates for reform of the NEM, as well as the National Electricity Law and Rules, for the encouragement of the effective demand side management (DSM), energy efficiency, consumer protection, and smart meters wherever the benefits for CALD communities outweigh the costs in the NEM.

In responding to ongoing consultative processes ECC will:
•    Continue to engage in the numerous NEM consultations over the next 8 months including: sharing information on project issues; publishing clear, concise information and regular updates on ECC website and E-newsletter so that  CALD communities and small businesses be better equipped with knowledge of the NEM, in order to better protect their interests under a deregulated electricity market
•    Ensure that ECC member communities get a better understandings of the NEM in general and on specific related issues.
•    Increase the ECC stakeholders and members’ understanding of Demand Strategy Management(SDM)  and energy efficiency
•    Utilise the skills of the ECC Bilingual Ethnic Community Liaison Officers through face-to-face and media to provide the community and businesses with information in their own language and record their responses to the infomation
•    Represent the ethnic communities’ views and priorities directly to the government and regulators in relation to policy making and its implementation.

In addition, this project will partioipate in the “NEM Network Coordinator and Researcher and Roundtable Meetings” which are currently conducted by the Consumer Action Law Centre (CALC) to provide advice and feedback to the AEMC/NER/DRET on behalf of ethnic communities and small businesses.

The project advocates on behalf of the ECC members and their constituencies in relation to the rules and policy of the developing NEM which involves ensuring those rules and policy minimise negative impacts on consumers and achieve an effective consumer protection safety net. In particular this will focus on the implications for household and small business energy pricing and the terms and conditions under which it is supplied.

The following, but not limited to, energy market rules and regulations will be investigated as part of the Project:

1. The implementation of the National Energy Customer Framework and the related NSW legislative package in response to the National Energy Retail Law (NERL), National Energy Retail Rules (NERR) and National Energy Retail Regulations.
Small customer compensation claims regime
2. National Energy Marketing Rules regulating marketing to small customers including Prepayment meters
3. NSW Customer Assistance Policy
4. NSW Energy Hardship Guide and NSW Customer Hardship Charters
5. AEMC Stakeholder Engagement and AEMC NSW Competition Reviews
6. Electricity Distribution Pricing Issues.
7. Carbon Priicing.
8. Energy efficiency programs, including the delayed Green Start program
9. General pricing/tariff issues for energy consumers with a view to a more equitable model of energy pricing.

The ECC will continues to advocate for CALD communities for consumer protection, understandable and clear choices, understandable plain language product disclosure statements and interpreter services. As a result of t6his project the ECC constituency will be better positioned to access information and take self-sustained and informed initiatives.