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New competition laws will apply to generators and suppliers of electricity as of 10 June 2020.
There will be three new prohibitions in relation to the electricity market.
These changes come off the back of an extensive inquiry and the final report, released by ACCC in July 2018, into the supply of retail electricity and the competitiveness of retail electricity prices.
The available penalties are varied but may be serious, ranging from public warning notices issued by the ACCC to fines of 10% of annual group turnover, orders from the Treasurer to enter into contracts with third parties, and divestiture orders handed down by a court.
The ACCC has published “Guidelines on Part XICA – Prohibited conduct in the energy market” (Guidelines), to assist generators, suppliers and acquirers in the energy market to understand the scope and application of the new laws and the general approach to enforcement that the ACCC will take.
Market participants should familiarise themselves with the Guidelines to ensure compliance with the new laws, as they contain useful examples of the types of conduct that the ACCC considers are likely or unlikely to contravene the new laws.
In relation to retail pricing, suppliers will need to monitor underlying costs to identify any sustained and substantial decrease for which retail prices may be adjusted. The ACCC indicates that it is more concerned with industry-wide reductions in underlying costs than that of a particular supplier.
It would also be prudent to update any compliance materials and protocols and conduct training of staff about the implications of the new laws.
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