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Roll out of national energy customer protections

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Martin Ferguson, MP Minister for Resources and Energy Minister for Tourism

Roll Out of National Energy Customer Protections

28 October 2010

The South Australian Parliament yesterday introduced legislation to implement the National Energy Customer Framework (NECF).

The NECF is a major reform initiative of the Ministerial Council on Energy (MCE) that will harmonise regulation and provide consistent, nationwide consumer protections in the energy sector.

The Minister for Resources and Energy and MCE Chair, Martin Ferguson AM MP, welcomed the benefits the implementation of the NECF will provide to consumers.

"The rollout of legislation to allow the implementation of the NECF comes at a critical time when we are seeing increases in the price of electricity around the country," Minister Ferguson said.

"Increases in electricity prices reflect the need for investment in network infrastructure to meet demand in a reliable manner.

"An increasing number of Australians are facing cost of living pressures.

"This new framework will strengthen protections for customers who experience financial hardship in paying their electricity bills.

"It imposes mandatory obligations on retailers to develop customer hardship policies that will assist residential customers experiencing longer-term payment difficulties.

"The streamlining of the regulatory environment can also enhance competition among retailers and provide customers with more choice.

"This is good for consumers and it is good for energy retailers."

At present the regulations governing the sale and supply of energy to customers are different across state and territory borders. Once passed in all jurisdictions, the NECF will harmonise these regulations, and transfer certain functions to the Australian Energy Regulator.

South Australia is the lead legislator for MCE legislation, and once passed through the South Australian Parliament this legislation will allow jurisdictions to progressively adopt the NECF in coming years.

The NECF is the last remaining major stage of the energy market reform program set out in the Australian Energy Market Agreement.

Media Contact:

Fiona Scott - 0457 542 330