Review of Governance Arrangements
In its April 2007 response to the report of the Energy Reform Implementation Group, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) committed to a review of energy market governance arrangements five years after their commencement. These arrangements include the national regulator, rule maker and market development body and market and system operator overseen by the Energy Council.
With the creation of the final of these institutions in 2009 the Council initiated the review in December 2014. The final report of the Review of Governance Arrangements for Australian Energy Markets was released in October 2015. The report concluded that the current arrangements are fundamentally sound but also identified opportunities to improve the transparency, timeliness, resourcing and clarity of function and purpose of policy and decision making.
Review of Enforcement Regimes
The Council was tasked with conducting a review of the enforcement regimes under the National Energy Laws as part of the former Standing Council on Energy and Resources Energy Market Reform Package 2012. The objective of the review was to ensure the enforcement regimes in the National Electricity Law, the National Gas Law and the National Energy Retail Law, are appropriate and capable of meeting both the new demands of national retail market regulation and the increasing pressure for effective enforcement in the context of the wholesale markets and network operations.
The review was finalised in December 2013 and at its meeting in December 2014, the Council tasked officials with implementing 11 of its 13 recommendations.
AER powers and civil penalty regime
At its meeting in November 2017, the COAG Energy Council agreed to progress two further recommendations from the Review:
amending the national energy laws to give the AER the power to compel individuals to appear before it and give evidence (recommendation 13)
conducting a targeted review of whether additional provisions of the national energy laws or subordinate instruments should attract the highest maximum civil penalty amount (recommendation 5).
In May 2018, the Council released a new consultation paper seeking stakeholder input on these issues.