Our scheme was set up in August 1995—as the Electricity Industry Ombudsman (Victoria) (EIOV)—at a time when the Victorian Government was undertaking a major restructure of its electricity industry.
New regulatory arrangements were in place and the restructured government electricity businesses were being prepared for sale. There was strong lobbying from consumer groups for appropriate and effective consumer protection mechanisms.
Encouraged by the industry regulator to be proactive in addressing the issue of customer dispute resolution, the electricity industry moved to establish an industry-based scheme—in the same way as the telecommunications and banking/financial services industries had already done.
When EIOV opened to full service in May 1996, it was the first energy Ombudsman scheme in Australia and, we understand, the world.
Early on, it was recognised by consumer groups and the industry regulator that EIOV had the potential to provide a foundation for a broader utilities Ombudsman scheme across the Victorian energy and water industries.
In 1999, the Victorian natural gas industry joined the scheme. In 2001, the Victorian water industry joined and the scheme’s name changed to the Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria) (EWOV). Since 2005, we have also handled LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) cases.
The current Ombudsman, Cynthia Gebert, was appointed in February 2012.
Our 2011 Annual Report includes a look at EWOV’s contributions to the Victorian community since our scheme started taking customer complaints back in 1996.