Stakeholders have rejected a proposal to abolish accountability measures in energy regulation which would see the removal of appeal rights for customers and networks.
Thirty-five stakeholders made public submissions to a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Energy Council review of the Limited Merits Review (LMR) regime including consumer groups, policy experts, industry participants, investors and regulators.
Energy Networks Association (ENA) Chief Executive Officer, John Bradley, said the majority of stakeholder submissions had supported reforms to the current process and rejected an option to abolish the regime.
“Among the 35 submissions, there was widespread support for reform of the current regime and widespread rejection of proposals to abolish the appeal rights of customers and networks,” Mr Bradley said.
“Even excluding network businesses, over 80 per cent of submissions rejected the abolition of the appeals process, which plays a vital role in ensuring high quality regulatory decisions in the interest of customers.
“Only four organisations, including the Australian Energy Regulator (AER), supported abolition of merits-based review and reliance on judicial review alone.”
Mr Bradley said that, by law, the Australian Competition Tribunal could not overturn the decision of the regulator unless satisfied it would be better for customers.
“The most eminent regulators and governance experts in Australia have opposed the abolition of this important accountability on the energy regulator, including Professor Graeme Samuel AC, Professor Allan Fels AO, Dr Mike Vertigan AC and Dr John Tamblyn,” Mr Bradley said.
“The current process does take too long and regulatory timetables can be fixed to avoid the need for multiple appeals by multiple parties.
“It would be an alarming move to sack an independent Tribunal, which has administered the law, identified material errors by the regulator and asked for them to be corrected.
“Many stakeholders expressed concern that the review was being conducted prematurely before the final outcomes of the remitted AER determinations were made or that the timetable for the review was too brief.”