This Summary outlines customers’ rights, entitlements and obligations as well as Essential Energy’s services and responsibilities for the provision of customer connection services under the energy laws.
The following relevant energy laws may affect your rights and obligations as an electricity customer:
- National Energy Retail Law (NSW)
- National Energy Retail Rules (NSW)
- National Electricity Rules
- Electricity Supply Act 1995 (NSW)
- Electricity Act 1994 (QLD).
About Essential Energy
About an electricity distributor
An electricity distributor owns, operates and maintains the poles, wires and basic meters that bring electricity to the customer – in detail, an electricity distributor:
- provides customer connection services to premises
- reads and maintains basic meters (where these meters are owned by Essential Energy)
- performs de-energisation and re-energisation of electricity supply
- ensures a safe and reliable electricity supply
- manages emergency responses to electricity network related matters.
About an electricity retailer
An electricity retailer sells and supplies electricity to the customer – in detail, a retailer:
- coordinates the installation and upgrade of meters
- responsible for meter reading services where the meter is not owned by Essential Energy
- can request de-energisation and re-energisation of electricity supply
- issues bills based on the amount of electricity a customer uses
- investigates billing issues.
Essential Energy’s customer connection contracts and how they may be obtained
A Deemed Standard Connection Contract (DSCC) refers to the agreement between Essential Energy and a customer for the provision of ongoing connection services to the premises. In the case of a new connection or a connection alteration, the DSCC takes effect upon acceptance by the customer of Essential Energy’s connection offer. That offer will contain terms and conditions relevant to the connection, which will form additional terms and conditions to this contract.
If your premises are connected to our distribution system, this contract starts on the date when you start to take supply of energy at those premises. The DSCC is not applicable to High Voltage connected customers or Embedded Generators with a total generating capacity above 30kW.
Essential Energy also has two AER Approved Deemed Standard Connection Contracts. These are:
- Deemed standard connection contract for large customers – High Voltage. This Contract applies if you are a large customer and your premises are connected to our High Voltage Distribution System and you do not have another Customer Connection Contract with us for those premises.
- Deemed standard connection contract for large low voltage customers with large embedded generation. This Contract applies to you if your premises are connected to our Low Voltage Distribution System, you are a large Customer with a large Embedded Generating Unit and you do not have another Customer Connection Contract with us for those premises.
New negotiated connection contracts can only be created when a connection application is submitted for a new connection or a connection alteration. The negotiations are conducted in accordance with Essential Energy’s Negotiation Framework.
Customer connection services - distributor’s rights and obligations
Essential Energy will, as soon as practicable after being notified by a customer’s retailer, provide customer connection services at the premises OR on a date agreed upon between the customer or the customer’s retailer, and ourselves. We will also:
- comply with the Guaranteed Service Level Scheme
- maintain a 24 hour fault information and reporting telephone number – 132080
- provide information about a customer’s electricity consumption or our charges, upon customer request or request by a customer’s retailer
- refer a residential customer to a relevant interpreter service if necessary to meet the reasonable needs of the customer.
Customer connection services – customer’s rights and obligations
Customers must give Essential Energy any information we reasonably require to provide them with customer connection services. Customers must also inform:
- their retailer of any change to their contact details
- their retailer of any change they are aware of that affects access to their meter or to other equipment involved in providing customer connection services at the premises
- Essential Energy of any proposed change they are aware of in plant or equipment, or change to the capacity or operation of connected plant or equipment, that may affect the quality, reliability, safety or metering of the supply of electricity to the premises
- either their retailer or Essential Energy of any permanent material change to the electricity load or pattern of usage at the premises.
Electricity customers will continue to have the right to:
- protection from disconnection where their premises are registered as requiring life support equipment
- protections around disconnection by the steps the electricity distributor or retailer has to take before considering disconnection for non-payment of the customer’s bill
- a minimum of four business days’ notice of planned interruptions to their electricity supply
- if customers have a complaint relating to the electricity supply to their premises, or their contract generally, they may lodge a complaint with Essential Energy in accordance with our standard complaints and dispute resolution procedure
- if customers are not satisfied with Essential Energy’s response to a complaint, they also have the right to refer their complaint to the Energy and Water Ombudsman of NSW, or if their premises are located in Queensland, the Queensland Energy Ombudsman
- if Essential Energy does not meet a relevant guaranteed service levels and customers are entitled to a payment under those laws, we will make a payment to customers in accordance with the relevant energy laws
- customers must provide Essential Energy any information we reasonably require under the connection contract, including updated information relating to the electricity load or pattern of usage at the premises
- under the energy laws, customers must allow Essential Energy, and our authorised representative’s safe and unhindered access to their premises.
Handling customer enquiries, complaints and disputes
If you have an enquiry or complaint, please call 132391. Essential Energy values your feedback and is committed to resolving matters in a fair, equitable and timely manner. We will investigate your concern, keep you informed of our actions to resolve your complaint as soon as possible, and notify you of the reasons for any decision we make. If you are not satisfied with our response, you can request a review of the original investigation and decision.
If you are still not satisfied, you may choose to contact the Energy and Water Ombudsman NSW (EWON) which provides a free, independent complaints resolution service, by calling 1800 246 545 (free call) or by visiting their website www.ewon.com.au.
Customers who live in Queensland can contact the Energy and Water Ombudsman Queensland (EWOQ) by calling 1800 662 837 (free call), by visiting their website www.ewoq.com.au, or their complaints website www.energywatercomplaints.com.au or by writing to PO Box 3640, South Brisbane BC, QLD, 4101.
New connections and connection alterations
For new connections and connection alterations, the customer must complete an ‘Application for Low Voltage Connection Form’ and submit it to Essential Energy for approval. No electrical work (i.e. connecting a customer’s premises to the network or performing a connection alteration) can be completed without this approval.
What is a new connection or a connection alteration?
A new connection is where no current physical link exists between a distribution system and a retail customer’s premises, for example, a new house or office block. A connection alteration is an alteration to an existing connection, including an addition, upgrade, extension, expansion, augmentation or any other kind of alteration.
Timeframes for the connection framework
In order to facilitate the connection process, strict timeframes have been implemented around the management, reporting and response to all customer enquiries and applications. The following diagram shows the series of steps that you, your retailer and Essential Energy will need to take to progress applications for new low voltage connections.
Key steps to connect to the network
- Applications for new connection/connection alterations can result in one of five types of offers being made: Basic and Standard with or without embedded generation; or Negotiated.
- After customers accept a Connection Offer from Essential Energy, both parties are bound by the contract determining the terms in which Essential Energy will provide connection services to that customer. These terms are in addition to the relevant customer connection contract.
- The Connecting to the network information pack and the Negotiation Framework inform customers on how to apply for their new connection/connection alteration and their right to negotiate their connection offer.
De-energisation of your electricity supply
We may need to de-energise your electricity supply for any of the following reasons:
- where you or your retailer have requested a de-energisation
- where there are health and safety reasons warranting de-energisation
- where there is an emergency warranting de-energisation
- electricity is being used illegally at your premises or you have interfered with the electricity supply or associated metering and electrical equipment
- you have failed to comply with the terms of your customer connection contract, or failed to pay applicable charges under that contract
- you have not provided us with safe access to your premises.
Unless requested by the customer, we cannot de-energise your electricity supply in circumstances where:
- the premises are registered as having life support equipment
- you have made a complaint, directly related to the reason for the proposed de-energisation, to us under our standard complaints and dispute resolution procedure and the complaint remains unresolved
- you have made a complaint, directly related to the reason for the proposed de-energisation, to the Energy Ombudsman and the complaint remains unresolved
- disconnection for non-payment is requested by the retailer during an extreme weather event
- the period of de-energisation falls within a protected period:
> on a business day before 8.00am or after 3.00pm; or
> on a Friday or day before a public holiday; or
> a weekend or public holiday; or
> in the period 20 December to 31 December (both inclusive in any year).
Energisation/Re-energisation of your electricity supply
Requests for energisation/re-energisation are to be made via your retailer, unless otherwise specified in a notice provided to you by Essential Energy. If you are a small customer and at the time of the request for energisation/re-energisation:
(a) you or your retailer have made arrangements for payment of the relevant reconnection charge; and
(b) you have complied with our requirements under the relevant energy laws; and
(c) the necessary infrastructure to re-energise the premises remains in place; and
(d) you provide safe and unhindered access to the premises,
we will re-energise your premises in accordance with the Guaranteed Service Level Scheme, unless you request a later time.
Planned interruptions of your electricity supply
From time to time, Essential Energy will need to work on our distribution network to ensure the delivery of essential services to your premises. If a planned interruption is scheduled in your area, Essential Energy will notify each affected customer by any appropriate means, of the interruption at least four business days’ before the date of the interruption, not including the date of the notice. A shorter period may apply upon consent of the customer.
Customers who have registered their premises as having life support equipment will receive at least four business days written notice of any planned interruption. The four business days will be counted from, but not include, the date the notice was received.
The notification will have an expected date, time and duration of the planned interruption and will include a 24 hour telephone number for enquiries.
If you have a query about planned interruptions at your premises you can contact Essential Energy on 132080.
Unplanned interruptions of your electricity supply
While we regularly inspect and maintain the electricity network to ensure you enjoy reliable electricity supply, there will be occasions when the quality and reliability of the electricity supply is subject to a variety of factors that are beyond our control and cause the supply to be interrupted. This can include, but is not limited to:
- accidents, emergencies, weather conditions, vandalism, system demand, the technical limitations of the distribution system and the acts of other persons, including at the direction of a relevant authority, or
- unanticipated or unplanned maintenance or repairs in any case where there is an actual or apprehended threat to the safety, reliability or security of the supply of energy.
Upon being advised of an unplanned interruption, within 30 minutes or otherwise as soon as practicable, Essential Energy will make information available about the nature of the interruption and provide an estimate of the time when supply will be restored or when reliable information on restoration of supply will be available.
In the case of an unplanned interruption, Essential Energy will strive to safely restore supply to affected customers as soon as possible.
If you require information on unplanned interruptions at your premises you can contact Essential Energy on 132080.
Guaranteed Service Levels
Essential Energy is required to comply with Guaranteed Service Levels for the provision of customer connection services.
Making a claim for loss or damage
If you have experienced loss or damage as a result of Essential Energy’s negligence, you may be eligible to make a claim for compensation. To apply, call 132391 and we will send you a copy of the form.
Please note that Essential Energy does not pay claims for damage caused by third parties or events outside its control, such as accidents, weather, vandalism, or interference from vegetation or animals. Any reimbursement offered will reflect the fair and reasonable cost to repair the damage.