Utilities Regulatory Framework
The Utilities Act 2000 (Utilities Act) provides a framework under which the Commission regulates certain aspects of the provision of utility services in the ACT. To provide a utility service in the Territory, a utility must be licensed under the Utilities Act or be the subject of an exemption. Utility services include:
- the transmission, distribution and connection of electricity;
- the transmission, distribution and connection of gas;
- the collection, treatment and/or distribution of water;
- the conveyance, collection, treatment and disposal of sewage and sewerage connection services; and
- the provision of water and sewerage networks for the supply of water and sewerage connection services.
The Commission is responsible for the licensing process and monitoring the compliance of licensees with their legislative and licence obligations. The obligations for licensees originate from a number of sources including:
- the Utilities Act;
- conditions imposed by the utility licence;
- industry codes made by the Commission under Part 4 of the Utilities Act; and
- technical codes made by the technical regulator under Part 3 of the Utilities (Technical Regulation) Act 2014.
The Utilities Act imposes obligations on licensees associated with operation of networks and licence conditions including compliance with local and national legislation.
Note: The Commission no longer licenses retail energy providers, these utility services are regulated by the Australian Energy Retailer. More information is available on the AER’s website.
The Commission's Responsibilities
The Commission is responsible for administering the licensing framework. The Commission’s responsibilities include:
- licensing of utilities, including granting, varying, transferring and revoking licences;
- determining and monitoring compliance with licence conditions;
- granting exemptions from compliance with licence conditions
- determination of licence fees; and
- approval or determination of industry codes.
Other regulatory agencies
Technical regulation is provided by the technical regulator under the Utilities (Technical Regulation) Act 2014. Customer complaints and disputes relating to licensed utilities and authorised energy retailers are handled by the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal under Part 13 of the Utilities Act.
Part 4 of the Utilities Act allows the Commission to make industry codes dealing with matters such as:
- setting service standards;
- protection of customers and consumers;
- provision of utility services;
- termination or interruption of utility services; and
- disconnection of customers from a utility network .
Current industry codes administered by the Commission are available at:
The technical regulator makes technical codes under Part 3 of the Utilities (Technical Regulation) Act 2014. Technical regulation is concerned with the operation of utility services and the protection and maintenance of their networks. Technical codes may be made for the following purposes:
- protecting the integrity of regulated utility networks and regulated utility services;
- protecting the health and safety of people who operate, work on, or are likely to be affected by, the operation of regulated utility networks and regulated utility services;
- ensuring the proper connection of customers’ premises to a regulated utility network for the provision of a regulated utility service;
- establishing design features or performance requirements for a regulated utility network or a regulated utility service, and facilities or equipment on customer’s premises that connect to a regulated utility network or regulated utility service;
- establishing boundaries that apply in relation to regulated utility networks, other networks and customer premises;
- protecting public and private property and the environment; and
- emergency planning by a regulated utility.
Access to services and customer rights
Part 6 of the Utilities Act outlines the nature of the relationship between customers of electricity connection services, water and sewerage connection services and water and sewerage services. Part 6 sets out obligations in relation to:
- access to services;
- what water and sewerage services utilities must provide for in their contracts with customers (called standard customer contracts and negotiated customer contracts); and
- the role of the Commission in reviewing and approving standard customer contracts.
The Consumer Protection Code outlines the basic rights of customers and consumers and utilities with respect to access to, and provision of, utility services. The Code also deals with the general conduct of utilities (and their agents) in the delivery of utility services.
Part 12 of the Utilities Act deals with complaints about utilities and the process for pursuing them through the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT). The ACAT also deals with cases of hardship. Further information can be found on ACAT’s website at: