If you’ve ever moved homes or have a keen eye for the real estate space, chances are you have heard of the term “embedded network” before.
To sum it up, embedded networks are private electricity networks that supply electricity and gas to multiple homes or businesses. The embedded network operators, in this case, known as exempt entities, purchase energy from the grid in partnership with an electricity retailer and proceeds to on-sell the energy to the tenant.
Tenants who are part of an embedded network are then billed for electricity usage by the exempt seller of the electricity (typically the owner or manager of the building). Exempt sellers do not need to become authorised by the AER (Australian Energy Regulator) as an energy retailer (valid exemptions from the AER will need to be present however).
These buildings that tenants reside in are commonly residential complexes (apartment blocks & apartment buildings), residential parks (lifestyle villages like caravan parks), or retirement villages. Multi-tenanted buildings are also involved in large embedded electricity networks supplied by authorised retailers, such as shopping centres and commercial buildings.
Do I live in an Embedded Network?
When moving into an embedded network, the exempt seller must provide the tenant with written information about their consumer protections and rights as embedded network customers. This will include the:
- Exempt sellers contact detailers
- Trading name of the embedded network
- ABN of the embedded service provider
- Electricity tariffs and any other prices, rebates and fees applicable
If you’re still not sure if you’re part of an embedded network or not, contacting the energy provider listed on your electricity bill is another solution, as well as contacting the embedded network manager directly.
What rights do I have living in an Embedded Network?
Your rights as an embedded network customer follow many of the same rights you’d receive using a traditional network provider, as stated by the Australian Energy Regulator. These rights include:
- Ensuring the embedded network is safe for the tenant to use.
- Fees/charges for network services are priced fairly in accordance with the Australian Energy Regulator.
- Electricity meters must comply with standards depending on when the embedded network was established.
- Providing clear procedures in case the tenant needs to make a complaint.
All embedded network operators and any exempt seller that services residential customers must be members of their state energy and water ombudsman, meaning any complaints can be made straight to them.
For convenience, here are the energy and water ombudsman contacts across Australia.
- Victoria – Victorian Energy and Water Ombudsman (EWOV)
- NSW – Energy and Water Ombudsman NSW (EWON)
- South Australia – Energy and Water Ombudsman SA (EWOSA)
- Queensland – Energy and Water Ombudsman Queensland (EWOQ)
- Tasmania – Energy Ombudsman Tasmania
- ACT – ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT)
Can I switch retailers?
Being a part of an embedded network doesn’t necessarily mean you’re locked into using the electricity supply from the specific energy retailer, as exempt sellers aren’t allowed to stop you from switching retailers.
Typically, once you’ve found the energy market retailer you want to connect with, they’ll ask the embedded network to make sure your meter is properly registered in the national electricity market so they can set up your account. You or your new retailer will also have to tell the embedded network operator that you’re switching to an authorized retailer.
Notably, your current embedded network won’t be much help when it comes to finding a new retailer, and you might have to replace your current parent meter to meet the required standard, which may come with additional fees. It’s also worth contacting your property owner about the switch, as there may be some underlying conditions in your tenancy agreement.
Lastly, you’ll receive two bills – one from your energy retailer for how much electricity you used, and another from the embedded network for network charges. No matter who your energy retailer is, you’ll pay the embedded network for those network charges.
If you need help getting your utilities connected sorted, please call MyConnect on 1300 854 478 or use the Get Connected form here! If you’re unsure about using a utility connection company, this post here can assist you.