The Independent Pricing And Regulatory Tribunal’s (IPART) final word on pricing of energy, water, and transport services is regarded as law by all residents living in the area of New South Wales (NSW). IPART is an independent and impartial regulator and uses government policies as well as work done by their fellow administrative and regulatory bodies to determine the prices of these services. There are several different legislative ACTs that govern the guidelines followed while determining the prices of services that fall under energy, water, and transport. The work of IPART has a direct bearing on the amount of money businesses and residents of NSW pay for transport fares, water, gas, and electricity. The tasks undertaken by IPART are:
• Monitor the compliance of license set rules by bodies given the mandate of offering retail transport, energy, and water services
• Follow the process of service delivery
• Ensure that the delivered services are of good quality and reliable
• Promoting healthy market competition
• Formulate and execute energy saving plans upon the request of the government
• Advice the government on matters that are related to industry productivity of NSW
• Audit suppliers of energy
• Determining the annual income of local government employees
• Minimizing the amount of greenhouse gas emitted by suppliers of electricity
• Preparing and executing smart energy saving schemes
• Regularly review the guidelines used to determine prices so as to maximize IPART’s efficiency
• Making recommendations for issuance and revocation of water licenses
The objective of IPART is to optimize market competition and value in the long-term interest of the NSW community, economy and environment. It aims to do so by carrying on with the following:
• protect consumers of regulated services from unreasonable price hikes and price gouging
• ensure that regulated service providers remain financially viable
• encourage regulated service providers to improve their economic efficiency and maintain or improve their service quality
• encourage competition where possible
• protection of the environment.
IPART is an independent regulator and advisor whose effectiveness stems from going the extra mile to ensure impartiality and community inclusivity. IPART is tasked with two main responsibilities, which are advising the government and setting maximum prices for electricity, water, gas, and transport. Since the decisions made by IPART affect the consumers of NSW, the regulator incorporates transparent and inclusive customer reviews into their decision making process. While undergoing the crucial process of setting prices, IPART follows a timetable that gives consumers ample time to offer suggestions, pose questions, and have their issues addressed. The involvement of the public also helps IPART crack the whip on suppliers of energy, transport, and water who are not doing their job well. When it comes to advising the local government, IPART involves the 152 local councils of NSW. Every year IPART determines a reasonable percentage increase in the annual income of local government salaries. To arrive at the allocated percentage, IPART combines the sound wisdom of local councils and compiled research that is based on public participation and current state of the industry.
While IPART is performing its tasks, it follows guidelines that are set by several ACTs that were formulated by the government. Every service related to the three main sectors of IPART has its own act. For instance determining the price of electricity requires IPART to follow the Electricity Supply Act of 1995. In the same manner, the Water Industry Competition Act of 2006 governs pricing water related services. The ACTs hugely influence the decision making process however, it is not the only criteria followed. IPART also believes in transparency and inclusivity. Therefore, the process of setting prices invites the opinion of the residents of NSW to ensure that the arrived number is the best for everyone. Aside from following set rules and involving the public during the decision making process, IPART also uses the following guidelines.
• Transparency in the criteria used to factor in pricing of services
• Extensive and wide consultation of other regulatory bodies
• Independent and impartial decisions
• Implementation of creativity while delivering services
• High professional standards while performing duties
The rules are put in place to ensure that both IPART and the suppliers of energy, water, and transport services deliver their mandates to the best of their ability. IPART also does regular auditing of all its services and the criteria used to arrive at the decisions. This allows IPART to formulate better and more effective ways of carrying out its responsibilities as well as improve on the weak points of the regulatory body. Regular audit of suppliers is also done to prevent overpricing and ensure that services meet the set quality standards.