The AER, or Australian Energy Regulator, is a separate legal entity formed as a constituent part of the ACCC, which focuses on ensuring that the energy and gas market in Australia is operating fairly and efficiently.
AER’s aim to make energy markets work better for consumers affects all aspects of their decision making because their vision is to ensure the long-term interests of consumers are protected. These interests include safety and reliability, price and quality. AER governs their activities by the objectives of the National Electricity Law, the National Gas Law and the Retail Law. Laws which aim to promote efficient investment , efficient operation, and fair use of energy services by suppliers on behalf of the consumers.
Strategic policies were set in place at AER following a period of community concern about whether energy markets are functioning efficiently and delivering services at reasonable prices. In response, the governmental entity undertakes a “Better Regulation Program” which aims to create and enforce compliance with a common approach to setting costs across electricity and gas network businesses. With one common approach they hope to define their power to amend and assess revenue proposals, while promoting better decisions with tools and incentives for businesses who invest efficiently. This has led to reviews across the every aspect of regulation, some of which are ongoing.
AER takes the stand against unfair practices and feels that suppliers must be regulated objectively, transparently, and on a consistent basis to protect the interests of consumers across Australia. They make timely decisions based on evidence and analysis alone, communicating honestly and directly, while taking care to always act respectfully.
By promoting efficient investment and operation of energy networks, AER plans for long term sustainability through consumer and stakeholder confidence and involvement. Ongoing investigation on compliance, and reporting on the efficiency and competition within the market, AER also has a “Retailer of Last Resort” policy to ensure consumers are not left without utilities, even in the event of a failed retailer.
The Home Energy Saver Scheme (HESS) is an Australian Government program provided through community organisations to assist low income households having difficulty with meeting and paying for their energy needs. The program can assist by providing assistance with budgeting, advice on ways to reduce energy use, information on rebates and concessions customers may be eligible for, advice on how to access no or low interest loans to purchase more energy efficient appliances. You can get more information by calling the HESS Helpline on 1800 007 001