melbourne residential apartment

An expert panel has released its final report recommending a ban on embedded networks in Victoria’s new residential buildings to ensure customers have fair retail protections.

The Embedded Networks Review was established as part of the Victorian Government’s election commitment to improve consumer outcomes in the energy market.

The panel leading the review − comprised of energy market and consumer advocacy experts − released its final report after hearing from hundreds of frustrated Victorians feeling ‘trapped’ in embedded networks.

Embedded networks are private electricity networks that serve multiple customer premises in a building or self-contained site. 

They are commonly used to supply power to consumers in developments such as apartment blocks, retirement villages, social housing, and caravan parks.

Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio, said, “We want to ensure that Victorians living in new and existing residential embedded networks can get access to the same competitive retail offers and consumer protections that other people have.

“That’s why we promised to act to ban these networks in new apartment blocks, which too often lock in high costs.

“I want to thank the panel for their work and their report, which we will respond to later this year.”

The panel recommended reforms for new and existing embedded network customers in apartment buildings, supporting the Victorian Government’s proposal to ban new networks from 1 January 2023, with exemptions if operators can show that 50 per cent or more of a site’s electricity consumption is met by on‑site, low-cost renewable energy.

The reforms will also mean the more than 140,000 Victorians living in residential embedded networks will have access to the same competitive retail offers and consumer protections as other Victorian consumers.

The promise to ban embedded networks is the latest in a series of energy market reforms already delivered by the Victorian Government, including the Victorian Default Offer, a ban on door-to-door sales and cold calling, and increased penalties for retailers who engage in dodgy behaviour.

These measures aim to increase fairness, reduce market complexity and contribute to a fall in power bills.

The Victorian Government will consider the panel’s final report and respond to its recommendations by mid-2022. 

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