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Background to the Independent and Bipartisan Review of the Electricity and Gas Retail Markets in Victoria

In 2016, the Victorian Government commissioned the Independent and Bipartisan Review of the Electricity and Gas Retail Markets in Victoria (Thwaites Review) to examine the operation of the Victorian electricity and gas retail markets and provide options to improve outcomes for consumers.

Privatisation of the energy retail markets in 2002 and price deregulation in 2009 did not lead to lower energy prices nor better choice of services for consumers. In response, the Thwaites Review focused on:

  • consumer and market characteristics of the electricity and gas retail markets, including consumer engagement, market structure, regulation and pricing.
  • the competitiveness of electricity and gas retail markets and any potential constraints on competitiveness.
  • consumer awareness in electricity and gas retail markets, and associated consumer protections.

In 2017, the Thwaites Review Final Report was published and included 11 recommendations to encourage energy markets to be simpler, fairer and more affordable for all Victorians.

In 2018, the Victorian Government publicly released the Government Response to the Thwaites Review and supported all 11 recommendations.

Read the 11 recommendations in the Thwaites Review:

Read the:

You can also refer to the Essential Services Commission’s Final Decision paper to the Thwaites Review here.

Energy Fairness Plan reforms

In November 2018, the Victorian Government announced the Energy Fairness Plan as part of its commitment to improving energy consumer outcomes. This was in addition to the reforms delivered in response to the government supporting all 11 recommendations in the Thwaites Review.

The Energy Fairness Plan benefitted Victorians by:

  • making energy retail markets simpler and fairer
  • cutting the cost of energy for Victorian households and small businesses
  • ensuring companies that do the wrong thing face the consequences.

Implementation outcomes

The reforms outlined below have been achieved through implementing the recommendations in the Thwaites Review and the commitments from the Energy Fairness Plan.

  • provide customers with simple and clear information about energy plans.
  • inform customers of the ‘best offer’ available at least once every 3 months for electricity bills and once every 4 months for gas bills.
  • clearly disclose to customers how long offers will be available without change.
  • requiring retailers to fix price offers for at least 12 months.
  • promoting using smart meter data for innovation, energy efficiency and enable consumers to compare offers.

Energy Fairness Plan:

  • banning door-to-door sales, and ‘win-back’ or ‘save’ offers.
  • moving the electricity and gas network price change date from 1 January to 1 July each year, away from holiday time.
  • reducing the back-billing period from 9 to 4 months.
  • providing targeted bill assistance and energy education to vulnerable customers.
  • supporting the Home Energy Assist package currently being delivered and committed $335 million to Efficient heating and cooling program.
  • ensuring customers do not lose benefits when contract ends with the same retailer.
  • capping what customers must pay their retailers if they don’t meet offer conditions.
  • trialling a not-for-profit brokerage service for Concession Card Holders.
  • reviewing the Utility Relief Grants Scheme to better serve vulnerable customers.

Energy Fairness Plan:

  • extending the Power Saving Bonus scheme.
  • a fair price for electricity determined by the Essential Services Commission.

(more information here).

Energy Fairness Plan

  • increasing criminal penalties for misleading the regulator and wrongful disconnections.
  • doubling civil penalty notices.
  • strengthening the ESC’s information-gathering and enforcement powers, including creating a three-tier civil penalty regime with maximum civil penalties of $10 million.
  • establishing a Litigation Fighting Fund to fund enforcement action against non-compliant energy companies.

Find out more by visiting the Your Energy Rights page.

Page last updated: 25/08/23