Policy

Submission on Protections for consumers of Distributed Energy Resources: Consultation paper

The current consumer protection framework is not fit for purpose to support consumers with distributed energy resources (DER). The regulatory framework should center consumer outcomes to ensure that as novel products and services are introduced consumers have strong protections in place.

We recommend the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning consider the following as part of their review:

  • Extending the ban on door-to-door sales or, at minimum, ban door-to-door sales for all providers of energy products and services regardless of if they are participants of the Solar Homes program.
  • The Victorian Government should develop an approach to collect and publish data about DER provider service quality and complaints handling practices. This data should be regularly released and provided to consumers at point of sale.
  • Establishing one-stop shops for consumers to seek tailored and independent advice about energy, from concessions and hardship support through to energy efficiency upgrades and smart home devices.
  • Prohibit the use of unregulated credit products such as Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) for use on solar or batteries while regulatory reform is underway to improve consumer protections under the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009.
  • That the Victorian Minister responsible for consumer affairs work with state and territory counterparts to strengthen consumer guarantees. This should include introducing penalties for non-compliance with this section of the ACL and a specific requirement for software updates to be provided for a reasonable time for internet connected devices as recommended by the Productivity Commission Right to Repair
  • Industry to provide improved information and support for consumers to recycle products including batteries and solar panels
  • Consumer Affairs Victoria should prioritise enforcement cases against companies using unfair contract terms in the sale and provision of DER.
  • Adopt the outstanding recommendation from the 2017 Independent Review of the Electricity & Gas Retail Markets in Victoria to expand the scope of the Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria scheme to cover emerging energy businesses, products, and services.

 

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