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Exempt retailers and distributors

Anyone who supplies energy must hold a licence issued by the ERA, unless exempt by law from holding a licence (‘exempt retailer’ or ‘exempt distributor’).

Energy Policy WA manages exemptions. The following persons, amongst others, may be exempt from holding a licence:

Electricity Gas
  • Persons who on-supply electricity to residential or business customers
  • Mining companies
  • Aboriginal communities
  • Persons supplying the town of Eucla
  • Persons supplying electricity to business customers from a generator located at the customer's premises
  • Persons transporting energy for the purpose of an electric vehicle charging station
  • Persons who on-supply gas to residential or business customers

What is on-supply?

On-supply is usually a situation where a licensed retailer supplies the exempt retailer. In this case, a licensed retailer supplies electricity or gas to a property through a single meter (master meter). The energy is then ‘sold on’ by the on-seller (the ‘exempt retailer’). The exempt retailer is usually the person or corporation who owns or manages the property, but it can also be someone that manages the electricity or gas supply on their behalf.

In cases of on-supply, the customer will receive a bill from the exempt retailer.

In many cases, each unit supplied by the exempt retailer will have its own sub-meter that is read by the exempt retailer. If there are no sub-meters, the amount to be paid is usually worked out using an average, or on the basis of how much space each unit in the complex takes up.

Examples of on-supply may include:

Residential Commercial
  • Caravan parks
  • Strata units
  • Retirement villages
  • Apartment blocks
  • Aboriginal communities
  • Office buildings
  • Shopping malls
  • Airports

Electricity and gas on-suppliers must provide their residential and business customers with information on the quantity of electricity or gas supplied and the fees and charges to be paid.

If you are a residential customer of an electricity or gas on-supplier, you have the following rights:

  • If the on-supplier buys electricity from Synergy or Horizon Power, you may not be charged more for your electricity than a residential customer of Synergy or Horizon Power would be charged.
  • If the on-supplier generates its own electricity, you may not be charged more for the electricity you use than the cost the on-supplier incurs in generating your electricity.
  • If the on-supplier supplies you with reticulated gas (i.e. gas from pipelines, not bottled gas), you may not be charged more for your gas than your on-supplier is charged by their retailer.

If you are a customer receiving your electricity through an on-selling arrangement you may be eligible for WA Government energy concessions.

If you would like more information about on-supply or your rights as a consumer, please refer to these Energy Policy WA resources for on-selling of electricity and on-selling of gas.

Customers of mining companies

If you reside in Dampier, Newman, Pannawonica, Paraburdoo, Tom Price or Wickham, you will be supplied with electricity by the local mining company. These mining companies are exempt from the requirement to hold a licence.

Although you receive supply from an exempt retailer/distributor, many of the protections described in this guide for customers of licensed retailers will also apply to you. For example, your mining company will have to adhere to most of the protections in relation to billing, payments, payment difficulties and financial hardship, disconnection and reconnection. There are also some protections in relation to information, communication, complaints and disputes handling that must be followed.

Protections for embedded networks

The WA Government is developing a framework that will provide protections to customers of alternative electricity services, such as embedded network services. An embedded network, sometimes referred to as on-supply, is a private electricity network servicing multiple lots or tenancies within the one property. It is connected to the grid through a “master meter” which measures the electricity supplied for everyone on that property at that connection point.

Under the framework, embedded network service providers will need to register with the ERA and comply with a number of new obligations. This will help ensure that a customer receiving electricity from an embedded network provider is provided with appropriate protections.

If you would like to find out more about these regulatory changes, please refer to the proposed regulation of embedded networks webpage on Energy Policy WA's website.

As the regulator responsible for the the administration and enforcement of the registration framework , the ERA will be publishing information of interest to embedded networks providers and customers over the coming months. If you would like to receive updates on this, please subscribe for updates.

Not sure?

To find out whether or not you are a customer of an exempt supplier, or if you have concerns or questions regarding your exempt supplier, contact Energy Policy WA on 08 6551 4600.

Page last updated: 01 May 2024