Electricity Industry Acts (Amendment) Bill

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1 Electricity Industry Acts (Amendment) Bill As Sent Print EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM PART I-PRELIMINARY Clause 1 Clause 2 sets out the purpose of the Act. provides for the commencement of the Act. Section 11 of the Act comes into operation on a day to be proclaimed. The remaining provisions of the Act come into operation on a day or days to be proclaimed. However if a provision (other than section 11) has not come into operation before 31 December 2000, then it comes into operation on that day. Section 11 (which introduces section 169F into the Electricity Industry Act 1993) does not have a default date on which it comes into operation because when it comes into operation is dependant on the date on which nationally it is agreed how competition will be introduced for domestic and small business customers. National agreement on those matters is not yet reached, however discussions and negotiations are ongoing. PART 2-ELECTRICITY INDUSTRY ACT 1993 Clause 3 Clause 4 amends section 158 of the Electricity Industry Act 1993 to confer on the Office of the Regulator-General the power to regulate tariffs regulated by Order under section 158AA, to the extent specified in such an Order. Orders made under section 158AA may confer powers and functions on the Office and this section provides for that possibility. inserts a new section 158AA in the Electricity Industry Act This new section provides for possible regulation by Order in Council of tariffs for prescribed customers. Orders may be made under the section to regulate tariffs for persons or classes of persons as specified in the Order. Any order made BILL LA AS SENT 2515/2000

2 under the new section 158AA expires on 31 December This section has been introduced to provide for the possible regulation of retail tariffs for customers who consume 160 megawatt hours per annum or less post 31 December Presently those customers' retail tariffs are subject to maximum uniform tariffs pursuant to orders made under section 158A of the Act, but those tariffs cease to have effect on 31 December Clause 5 Clause 6 Clause 7 Clause 8 amends the existing Order made under section 158A of the Electricity Industry Act 1993 to clarify the operation of those provisions of that Order (particularly those related to excluded services) that continue in effect post 31 December allows the existing Order made under section 158A of the Electricity Industry Act 1993 to be amended in relation to metering and data collection and processing services and public lighting and to clarify the operation of clause 5.10 of that Order. amends provisions in the Electricity Industry Act 1993 relating to licences. The amendments make it a licence condition that electricity retailers and distributors have sufficient agreements between themselves to ensure they can supply and sell electricity to their customers. The amendments also make it a retail licence condition that those retailers who sell to domestic customers have a Community Services Agreement with the State by which they provide community services to certain customers. The amendments clarify that the Office of the Regulator-General may require compliance of licensees with specified codes, standards, rules and guidelines as modified by the Office. The amendments also provide for the Office to monitor compliance with customer related standards etc. and may in certain circumstances require modification or revocation of standards etc. in lieu of those used by a licensee. The section also removes the requirement that licensees be companies incorporated under the laws of Victoria, statutory authorities or State owned corporations. substitutes a new section 163AAA of the Electricity Industry Act 1993 dealing with suppliers of last resort. The section provides for who may be such a supplier, the circumstances in 2

3 which the obligation to be such arises and the terms and conditions of supply (which may be determined by the Office of the Regulator-General). Clause 9 inserts new sections 169A, 169B, 169C and 169D in the Electricity Industry Act Section 169A provides for offers to sell electricity to domestic and small business customers. Section 169B creates certain fundamental consumer protection obligations. Section 169C provides for deemed contracts up to 31 December 2003 for those customers who were franchise customers immediately before 1 January 2001 and section 169D provides for variation of those deemed contracts by advertisement. Clause 10 inserts new section 169E in the Electricity Industry Act This section makes provision for certain technical aspects of the implementation of full retail competition on 1 January 2001 namely metering installation identification. Clause 11 inserts new section 169F in the Electricity Industry Act Like section 169E, this section makes provision for certain technical aspects of the implementation of full retail competition on 1 January 2001 namely the exchange and use of customer information in order to facilitate customers choosing between retailers. Clause 12 inserts new sections 170A, 170B and 170C in the Electricity Industry Act Licensees must have a Community Service Agreement with the State. These sections provide for how those agreements are to be entered into, their length (5 years) and how disputes as to their terms are to be dealt with (the Office of the Regulator-General may determine those disputes). Clause 13 amends section 173 of the Electricity Industry Act 1993 to clarify that the Office of the Regulator-General has the discretion post 1 January 2001 to dispense with or modify the cross-ownership restrictions in Part 13 of the Act. Clause 14 is a statute law revision provision. 3

4 PART 3-ELECTRICITY SAFETY ACT 1998 Clause 15 inserts a new definition in the Electricity Safety Act 1998 to define "tree" as including "vegetation". This amendment is made to clarify the requirement to keep vegetation clear of power lines. Clause 16 amends the exemption provisions in section 4. This provision is to be read with clause 19 and is intended to allow the Office of the Chief Electrical Inspector to exempt electricity suppliers from the obligation to have bushfire mitigation plans. Clause 17 inserts a new section 41 B in the Electricity Safety Act 1998 providing that a supervisor is deemed to carry out certain work. Clause 18 amends certain provisions of the Electricity Safety Act 1998 to ensure they apply to offers to supply as well as supply. Clause 19 inserts a new division in the Electricity Safety Act 1998 dealing with bushfire mitigation and inspection of overhead private electric lines. Clause 20 amends certain provisions in the Electricity Safety Act 1998 relating to electricity safety management schemes. Clause 21 amends certain provisions in the Electricity Safety Act 1998 relating to regulations. Clause 22 removes doubt as to the validity of certain regulations which were made without the publication in the Government Gazette of the necessary notice of decision to make them. Clause 23 amends Schedule 1 of the Electricity Safety Act Clause 24 makes statute law revision amendments to the Electricity Safety Act PART 4-0FFICE OF THE REGULATOR-GENERAL ACT 1994 Clause 25 amends section 27C of the Office of the Regulator-General Act 1994 consequent on the introduction of new Part 4A into that Act. Section 27C provides for restriction on disclosure of confidential information and this amendment provides for that section to operate for Part 4A special references. 4

5 Clause 26 amends section 29 of the Office of the Regulator-General Act 1994 to make it plain that the powers under Part 4 are distinct from those under the new Part 4A of that Act. Clause 27 introduces a new Part 4A into the Office of the Regulator General Act The new Part 4A provides for special references to the Office in relation to regulated industries. The new Part is designed for use as part of the process for making orders under the new section 158AA of the Electricity Industry Act This Part may be used to refer to the Office for investigation of tariffs proposed by electricity retailers. The new Part provides for references by Ministers, the terms of that reference, conduct of and powers relating to investigations and reports. The Part also allows for specification of particular objectives that the Office is to have in acting under the Part. Clause 28 inserts a provision limiting the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court as a consequence of the enactment of section 34D(7) in the new Part 4A. Clause 29 makes statute law revision amendments to the Office of the Regulator-General Act PART S-NATIONAL ELECTRICITY (VICTORIA) ACT 1997 Clause 30 amends the National Electricity (Victoria) Act 1997 to clarify the Office of the Regulator-General's ability to act under that Act. PART 6-AMENDMENT OF OTHER ACTS Clause 31 amends the Electricity Industry (Further Amendment) Act 1994 to repeal a spent provision. Clause 32 amends the Electricity Industry (Further Miscellaneous Amendment) Act 1997 to repeal a spent provision. 5

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