In rare circumstances, entities can be exempt from needing a licence or trial waiver. Exemptions can be general or specific.

Whilst DEECA process exemption requests, the Essential Services Commission grants licences and trial waivers. They also make sure energy businesses follow energy laws and rules.

The Essential Services Commission is also responsible for:

  • ensuring exempt persons follow any relevant exemption,
  • the registration database that most exemption holders must register on,
  • specifying the consumer protections that apply to exemptions, and
  • setting the Victorian Default Offer.

You can find out more information about licences and trial waivers here.

General Exemption Order

The General Exemption Order 2022 took effect on 1 January 2023. The General Exemption Order 2022 exempts various activities. This includes using solar panels for personal use.

Anyone exempt under General Exemption Order 2022 needs to comply with other conditions. This can include:

You can find more information here:

Specific exemptions

A licence, trial waiver or the General Exemption Order 2022 covers most activities. But this may not be feasible or practicable. If so, a specific exemption may be appropriate in genuinely exceptional circumstances.

You must have already considered your options. This includes falling under the General Exemption Order 2022 or getting a licence. This includes you contacting the Essential Services Commission about applying for a licence.

In the past, specific exemptions have been granted for certain projects or arrangements that have delivered significant public benefit. Examples include innovative energy solutions, connecting remote communities or major infrastructure projects. A specific exemption may be appropriate for your project or arrangement. You will need to show special circumstances and/or associated material public benefits.

The reasons you use to justify an exemption will be unique. Specific exemptions are considered on a case-by-case basis. The Victorian Government is guided by the following:

  • The long-term interests of Victorian consumers.
  • Delivery of material public benefit.
  • If appropriate conditions can be included and how they are enforced. The specific exemption should try to mitigate any risks. This can include conditions requiring compliance with Codes of Practice.
  • If your exemption request is aligned with broader Victorian Government policy. This can include relevant reviews or related reforms. An example is the Embedded Networks Review recommendations and reforms).
  • Why your project or arrangement is not covered by other regulatory options. This includes the General Exemption Order 2022, licence or trial waiver. You will need to show why a licence/trial waiver is not feasible or practicable.
  • The reasons for seeking the specific exemption. For example, you may prefer to sell or supply electricity under a specific exemption. This is instead of getting a licence because it is simpler and lower cost. But this alone is unlikely to be enough to warrant the grant of a specific exemption.
  • How you intend to comply with the AER’s network exemptions framework.

How are specific exemptions granted?

Under the Electricity Industry Act 2000, the Governor in Council may exempt you from needing a licence.

The Minister may exercise discretion to recommend to the Governor in Council. This is either that a specific exemption be granted, or to reject the request.

If granted, the exemption instrument is published in the Government Gazette. You must register on the Essential Services Commission’s Register of Exempt Persons if required to.

If a specific exemption is not granted, you must either:

  • Apply for a licence from the Essential Services Commission; or
  • Adjust your arrangements. You must comply with the General Exemption Order 2022 or other regulatory requirements.

If you generate, transmit, distribute, supply or sell electricity by retail, you must have authority to do so. This is before commencing the activity.

To consider any specific exemption request, DEECA may ask for information such as:

  • Organisation detail. This can include your name, ABN/ACN, address, diagram of corporate/project structure
  • What are the activities proposed/intended to part of a possible specific exemption
  • How and why you cannot get a licence or fit under the General Exemption Order 2022
  • Any timing requirements
  • Access arrangements to the National Electricity Market
  • The type of customers serviced by the activity. This includes if you will serve any vulnerable cohorts. Examples include customers with life support needs or those requiring payment difficulty assistance.

The above list is not exhaustive.

To find out more, please contact DEECA at

Page last updated: 09/07/24