AGL recently responded to the NSW Government Department of Planning, Industry & Environment’s (the Department) consultation on proposed changes to the NSW Social Programs for Energy Code.

The purpose of the NSW Social Code is to facilitate the delivery by authorised retailers a range of social programs for energy in NSW such as the Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA) and a range of customer rebates.

The Department has proposed a range of changes, from small administrative changes, to substantial changes impacting retailer systems and processes. Many of these recommendations are proposed for a 1 July 2021 start, following a final decision expected in March 2021, which is highly likely to leave retailers insufficient time to implement changes. It is imperative the Department work closely with industry in not only making changes to the Code but also allowing sufficient time for the industry and the Department to test systems and processes. These payments are crucial in supporting vulnerable customers and history has shown where the Department works collaboratively customers are negatively impacted and the changes end up costing all NSW residents more as the Department and retailers work to rectify problems post implementation.

The Department also recommends a development scheduled for 1 July 2022 which will introduce a new digital administrative process to be managed by the Department for a ‘one form’ across all rebates. AGL welcomes this recommendation and is looking forward to collaborating with the Department to work through the design and implementation.

We strongly encourage the Department to undertake a cost benefit analysis to determine the appropriate approach forward with their recommendations for the proposed July 2021 changes, and to consider a 1 July 2022 start date for all changes for efficiency in implementation and to maximise benefits to both consumers and industry.

You can read our full submission here.