Members of the community relying on life support equipment are particularly vulnerable in the event of a power outage.
As the regulator of energy markets and networks under national energy market legislation and rules, the Australian Energy Regulator is responsible for ensuring energy customers are adequately protected under the Retail Law and Rules. An important consumer protection contained within these rules aims to protect consumers that require continuous power in order to operate life support equipment.
The Retail Rules require that when a premises is registered as having life support equipment, customers are required to be given:
- general advice that there may be a planned or unplanned interruption to the supply
- information to assist them prepare a plan of action in the case of an unplanned interruption
- an emergency telephone number for the distributor and the retailer at no more than the cost of a local call, and
- at least four business day’s written notice of any planned interruption.
These rules have recently been updated to strengthen protections for customers that rely on life support equipment. The change in rules effectively means that customers will be entitled to life support protections from the time they first inform either their retailer or distributor that they rely on life support equipment and improve the accuracy of life support registers.
However for these protections to be effective, customers must be correctly registered with their energy provider.
Life support registration
To be eligible for these protections, customers must register as a life support customer with their energy provider. This means providing their energy provider with confirmation from a registered medical practitioner that a person residing at the customer’s premises requires this equipment. A customer is required to be given a medical confirmation form when they advise their retailer or distributor of a person’s life support protection. These forms need to be completed by the customer and their registered medical practitioner before they are returned to the energy provider.
From 1 February 2019, customers are temporarily registered with their energy provider. This means that if the customer has notified their energy provider of the need for life support protection but hasn’t provided confirmation from a registered medical practitioner, they may be deregistered. These customers are at risk of having their protections removed if they do not supply the necessary confirmation to their energy provider.