We are addressing gaps in consumer protections and improving outcomes for embedded network customers. To do this, we have published an Embedded Network Action Plan that aims to bring outcomes for embedded network customers in line with those in traditional energy supply arrangements.
An embedded network is when a privately owned energy network supplies multiple premises and residents within a building or site. They can supply, individually or in combination, electricity, gas, or hot or chilled water. They are often found in strata schemes at residential apartment blocks, retirement villages, caravan parks, and shopping centres.
Embedded networks can deliver benefits for customers, including lower bills and the ability to share solar energy costs across multiple premises. In some cases, embedded networks customers do not have access to the national consumer protections and support available to those in more traditional energy supply arrangements.
The gaps in consumer protection and support can include:
- price protections
- billing transparency rules
- free and independent dispute resolution services
- access to the retailer of their choice
- access to government emergency financial support.
Embedded Network Action Plan
The Embedded Network Action Plan identifies how we can address these gaps in consumer protections and bring outcomes in line with those for customers in traditional energy supply arrangements.
Immediate actions include:
- the development of a maximum price for energy sold to hot and chilled water embedded network and gas embedded network customers, to protect them from unreasonably high prices
- a draft Ministerial Statement of Expectations for public comment that outlines the NSW Government’s expectations, including that:
- hot and chilled water embedded networks customer should have access to equivalent consumer protections to those in traditional energy supply arrangements under the National Energy Customer Framework; and
- all electricity embedded network operators should abide by Default Market Offer maximum prices. This is the national price cap on standing offers to protect electricity customers from unreasonably high prices.
Medium-term actions include:
- regulatory and legislative changes to provide enforceable consumer protections to customers of hot and chilled water embedded networks, giving effect to the Ministerial Statement of Expectations
- expanding the Energy Accounts Payment Assistance scheme to ensure customers in embedded networks have equal access to emergency financial support at times of crisis
- a review by the Independent Pricing and Review Tribunal NSW to:
- determine the appropriate method for setting the maximum prices for hot and chilled water services, and gas services, in embedded networks,
- consider whether new hot and chilled water embedded networks are in the long-term interest of customers, and whether the NSW Government should ban their establishment by third party operators, and
- consider whether a maximum price that is below the national Default Market Offer price for electricity embedded networks is required, and a preferred way to set such a maximum price,
- improving disclosure to prospective owners and tenants so they know their property is serviced by an embedded network prior to purchasing or leasing
- implementing the recommendations of the Statutory Review of the Strata Schemes Development Act 2015 and Strata Schemes Management Act 2015, which includes:
- protecting electricity embedded network customers in strata schemes from long contract terms, and
- continuing national advocacy with the view to improve consumer protections and retail competition for embedded network customers and ensure all new embedded networks approved are in the long-term interests of consumers.
Download the Embedded Network Action Plan.
How to get involved
We have now released the draft Ministerial Statement of Expectations: Protecting NSW customers of embedded networks for public comment. You can read more about the draft Ministerial Statement and submit a comment. Submissions close at 5:00 pm AEDT Friday 31 March 2023.
If you have questions about the Action Plan, please contact the Energy Consumer and Competition Policy team at firstname.lastname@example.org.