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’).
The Department of Finance's Public Utilities Office manages exemptions. The following persons, amongst others, may be exempt from holding a licence:
- 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 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:
- Caravan parks
- Strata units
- Retirement villages
- Apartment blocks
- Aboriginal communities
- Office buildings
- Shopping malls
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.
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.
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 the Public Utilities Office on 08 6551 1000.
This information applies to small use customers. You are a small use customer if you use less than 160MWh (about $56,000) of electricity per year or up to 1TJ of gas per year (between $28,500 and $43,000, depending on where you live).