New national laws regulating the retailing and distribution of electricity and gas began on 1 July 2013. The new laws are called the National Energy Customer Framework (NECF) and moved the regulation of the sale and supply of energy from a state-based framework to national regulation.

The full NECF legal package is available on the SCER website.

The NSW legal package is available on the NSW Legislation website.

Broadly speaking, under the NECF, NSW households are now better protected and have access to improved information about their energy use.

Will I notice any changes when the NECF begins?

You should not notice any significant changes to the way your electricity and gas services are delivered, but you may notice some additional information on your electricity bill.

From February 2014, all energy retailers will be required to show information on your electricity bill that compares your use with other households in your area. If your consumption is higher than average, there may be opportunities to save energy in your home. This information will not appear on your gas bill.

Will the NECF affect the current electricity and/or gas contract I have with my energy retailer?

All existing electricity and gas contracts will automatically transition to the new regime so you do not need to do anything.

Will the NECF help me to get a better deal for energy?

As part of the NECF, a free independent energy comparison service has been launched which quickly compares current electricity and gas contracts available in NSW to help you find the best deal. You can access the service online by visiting the Australian Government's Energy Made Easy website or by calling 1300 585 165.

Click here for more information on what you need to know before you sign up to an energy contract.

What about if I am offered an energy contract over the phone, by mail or by a salesperson?

Any person selling you an energy contract must provide you with an Energy Price Fact Sheet. In addition, if a salesperson contacts you, they must tell you who they are and why they are contacting you.

If the contact is in person, they must show you identification and leave your home or property if you ask them to.

If you sign up to a new energy contract, the salesperson must give you a written copy of the sales agreement, inform you of your right to cancel the contract and the steps to do this, and not ask you to waive your right to cancel within the cooling off period.

Salespeople for energy retailers cannot force or pressure you into signing up to an energy contract or to buy services you are not interested in.

You can also ask to be placed on any energy retailer's 'do not contact' list which means they cannot contact you by email or in person at your home for the purpose of selling products.

If you do not want to be contacted by door to door salespeople, you can also display a 'do not knock' sticker. These are available free of charge from:

If you do not wish to be contacted by telephone salespeople, you can add your telephone number(s) to the Australian Communications and Media Authority's 'Do not call' register.

If you think a salesperson who has contacted you has not met their legal requirements, try to remember any details provided (e.g. name) and the energy retailer they represent and contact the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's Infocentre on 1300 302 502. For more information see Know your rights when a salesperson knocks.

Will the NECF help me if I am having trouble paying my energy bills?

Yes, the NECF introduces a legal obligation on energy retailers to support customers who are experiencing financial difficulties and are unable to pay their energy bills.

As a minimum, if you inform your energy retailer you are experiencing financial difficulties, your retailer must offer you a payment plan to make the bill payments more manageable.

The retailer may also offer further assistance if you are a hardship customer including:

  • flexible payment options, for example payment plans and Centrepay
  • help to access other support services such as concessions and financial counselling
  • advice about saving energy in the home.

If you are a hardship customer or a residential customer on a payment plan because you are experiencing financial difficulties, and you are meeting the terms of the plan, you cannot be disconnected.

It is also illegal for your energy retailer to disconnect you if your home is registered as requiring life-support equipment.

What if I buy my energy from my landlord, eg if I live in a retirement village, caravan park or rent a shop in a shopping centre?

If you purchase energy from your landlord, rather than direct from a retailer, for example, if you are a tenant at a shopping centre, caravan park or in a retirement village, this is called 'on selling' and you will still have the rights and protections under the NECF.

If you are a residential or business tenant, you may also have energy related rights and obligations under your tenancy agreement.

If you are a residential customer, your consumer protections will also include:

  • flexible payment options if you are experiencing financial difficulty
  • clear and set time frames for receiving and paying your energy bills
  • complaints handling arrangements
  • price protections
  • clear and reasonable disconnection procedures.

Your customer protections as a small business customer will also include:

  • clear and set time frames for receiving and paying your energy bills
  • complaints handling arrangements
  • price protections
  • clear and reasonable disconnection procedures.

Under the NECF, all on selling operations are regulated by the Australian Energy Regulator. For more information contact the Australian Energy Regulator by calling 1300 585 165, or go to www.aer.gov.au.

Policy development of the NECF

Background information on the development and implementation of the NECF in NSW can be found in the papers below: