Beauty and the beast: consumer protections in the complex world of behind the meter systems Alternative formats available on request to PIAC - Contact PIAC
The COAG Energy Council’s consultation paper on behind the meter systems seeks to identify the consumer protections required for behind the meter products and services. In a market that is evolving towards distributed generation, PIAC considers it is essential that regulation facilitates consumer access to the benefits of new technology while providing adequate consumer protections. Given the complexity of new products and the increased risks borne by consumers, there is great potential for consumer detriment to occur if an appropriate safety net of fundamental, energy-specific consumer protections is not in place. PIAC’s view is that these protections should include explicit informed consent, strong information disclosure and provision requirements, access to free and independent external dispute resolution, and the right to access the grid.
PIAC’s submission is based on two key principles. First, energy-specific consumer protections and regulation are needed for new energy products and services. Secondly, a ‘one size fits all’ regulatory approach is burdensome in an evolving market of differentiated products and services. Rather, it would be more effective to take a flexible and differentiated regulatory approach that delivers an appropriate level of consumer protections for each class of product or service. This ensures that the level of regulation remains proportional to the level of risk assumed by the consumer, and that the right level of regulatory obligation to deliver consumer protections is imposed on the appropriate party.