26 September 2023

Electricity bills switched to understandable

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Energy bills issued in the ACT are to include information on how to switch to a better offer as the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission (ICRC) updates its retail electricity code.

Announcing the changes, the ICRC said it intends to alter the ACT Retail Electricity (Transparency and Comparability) Code 2021 following the release of the Australian Energy Regulator’s (AER) Better Bills Guideline, which requires retailers to simplify the energy bills they issue to customers.

The ICRC said the Guideline would replace the better offer obligation contained in the ACT Code.

“The Commission has therefore decided to vary the ACT Code,” the ICRC said.

“These variations to the Code will avoid confusion and minimise the administrative costs of National Energy Retail Law retailers, which will benefit ACT consumers,” it said.

“[The better offer obligation] is a prompt to small customers to shop around for better deals and tells them how they can find a better offer that suits their needs and could save them money off their bills.”

It said that until the AER Guideline becomes fully operational on 1 April 2023, energy retailers will be required to comply with the ACT Code’s transitional better offer obligation arrangements.

The Commission said the transitional arrangements, coming into effect from 1 July this year, will mean energy bills must include a message to all customers that prompted them to seek information about other offers and suppliers as soon as possible.

It said the message would be titled ‘Could you save money on another plan?’ and must provide clear, simple instructions to the customer about how to contact their retailer to discuss whether a better offer was available.

In a statement, the AER said its Guideline required a better offer statement to be included on the first page of energy bills, also titled ‘Could you save money on another plan?’.

“The Guideline also requires clear contact information on how customers can switch, whether conditions apply, and a reference to the AER’s comparison website www.energymadeeasy.gov.au,” the ICRC said.

It said the amendments to the ACT Code would be made before 30 June.

The AER’s 19-page Better Bills Guideline can be accessed at this PS News link and a one-page example of what ACT customers can expect their bills to look like at this link.

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