The ERA is an independent statutory authority established by the Parliament of Western Australia. Our purpose is to benefit the WA community by promoting an efficient and customer focused economy. We aim to achieve this purpose through the range of regulatory functions that we perform. We also provide advice to the government on important economic issues.
The Government has made various laws and rules to regulate the energy and water industries. We administer some of these laws, including the energy and water licensing frameworks. As part of our role, we issue licences and monitor if licensees comply with the conditions of their licence.
We also undertake various customer protection activities, such as approving energy standard form contracts and water financial hardship policies, as well as developing and reviewing guidelines and codes of conduct.
Standard Form Contracts
Electricity and gas retailers that supply energy to small use customers must have an approved standard form contract. Amendments to a standard form contract must also be approved by us. A small use customer is a customer who uses less than 160 megawatt hours (MWh) per year (equal to electricity of about $39,000 to $58,000 depending on type of customer) or 1 terajoule (TJ) of gas per year (equal to about $28,000 to $43,000 depending on location and type of customer).
Standard form contracts are important for customers because they specify the terms and conditions upon which a retailer will supply energy to its customers. These terms and conditions form a “safety net” for customers whose retailer is required to offer a standard form contract.
Financial Hardship Policies
Energy and water service providers that supply residential customers are required to have a financial hardship policy to assist customers pay their energy and water bills.
Water licensees must review their financial hardship policies every five years and submit the results of their review to us for approval. Energy licensees must review their financial hardship policies when directed by us.
Our Financial Hardship Policy Guidelines give guidance to licensees on the matters that should be addressed in a financial hardship policy. The guidelines aim to assist licensees to develop compliant, user-friendly and practical policies.
Regulatory Codes of Conduct
Code of Conduct for the Supply of Electricity to Small Use Customers
The electricity code regulates the conduct of electricity retailers, distributors and electricity marketing agents with respect to the supply of electricity to small use customers. The code sets service standards that customers can expect, provides for compensation where these standards are not met and protects customers from undesirable marketing conduct.
The electricity code must be reviewed at least every two years by an independent consultative committee. The Electricity Code Consultative Committee (ECCC) has been established to conduct this review. The committee comprises members representing the interests of both customers and licensed service providers. The ECCC must prepare a report based on their review of the code. Upon consideration of the review report, we may decide to make amendments to the code.
Gas Marketing Code of Conduct
The gas marketing code provides protections for customers in relation to the marketing of gas and ensures that customers receive appropriate information before, during and immediately after a gas contract is signed.
Like the electricity code, the gas maketing code must be reviewed at least once every two years by an independent consultative committee. We have established the Gas Marketing Code Consultative Committee (GMCCC) to undertake this review. The committee, whose members represent the interests of both customers and licensees, must prepare a report based on their review of the gas marketing code. We may then decide to make amendments to the gas marketing code.
Compendium of Gas Customer Licence Obligations
The compendium sets the minimum service standards that gas retailers and distributors must comply with when supplying gas to small use customers. The compendium is based on the format of the electricity code to ensure that, as far as practicable, small use gas customers will receive protection commensurate with electricity customers and that conduct requirements across the energy industry are largely consistent regardless of fuel type.
Water Services Code of Conduct (Customer Services Standards 2013)
The water code prescribes a set of minimum service standards and requirements that water service providers must comply with. The water code deals with matters such as the connection of water services, billing and payments, assistance for customers in financial hardship, complaints, and the provision of information to customers.
We must undertake a review of the water code at least once every five years, and will be advised by a consultative committee set up for this purpose.
ERA Consumer Consultative Committee
Consumer groups play a vital role in helping the ERA assess issues and the potential impacts of its decisions.
The ERA's Consumer Consultative Committee (ERACCC) was established in March 2005 to provide comment on issues affecting consumers (within the scope of the ERA’s administration of the Economic Regulation Authority Act 2003) and to provide tangible outcomes for consumers through work that members undertake in partnership with other members and the ERA.
We seek to ensure our communication and compliance strategies meet the needs of consumers and ERACCC members are a conduit for informing stakeholders and obtaining feedback on our work. Members are appointed for a two year period. Current members are listed on our website.
Our comprehensive publications Switched On – A guide for electricity and gas customers and On Tap
– A guide for water consumers were produced to help customers
understand the electricity, gas, and water industries, and their rights