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The State Electricity Commission of Victoria was set up in 1918 to be the state-owned electricity generator, transmitter, distributor and supplier for Victoria. In the 1990s, electricity supply was privatised and, as part of the transformation of Victoria's electricity industry, the need for a free dispute resolution service was identified.

The Electricity Industry Ombudsman (Victoria) was formed by six electricity companies. Other electricity companies joined the scheme, followed by gas companies in 1999 and water companies in 2001. Our name changed from the Electricity Industry Ombudsman (Victoria) to the Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria).

Electricity, gas and water companies that fall within our jurisdiction must become members of EWOV and their customers can come to us for free with enquiries or complaints for most issues. The electricity, gas or water company is then charged a fee by us for dealing with the customers' enquiries or complaints.

Our jurisdiction has expanded over the years as the energy and water market has changed and reforms have been introduced. For example, in mid-2018 Embedded Networks were added to our jurisdiction.

We continue to provide fair, independent and free dispute resolution for Victorian customers. We also participate in policy and reform discourse, offering insights into our case trends and data, and we identify systemic issues that companies and regulators can address to improve outcomes for customers.

Acting Ombudsman

James Lawson

James has over 20 years experience in leading operational teams and driving sustainable change and innovation in ‘for purpose’ environments. James has worked in the UK and in Australia in not-for-profit, local and state government sectors in customer facing, strategic and project management roles.

Before joining EWOV, James worked in the Victorian Public Service, delivering outcomes in a variety of fields, including the design and delivery of a Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission recommendation to assist landowners following the 2009 bushfires. His last four years in the VPS were in the statutory role of Registrar, Births, Deaths and Marriages and Director, Adoption Services. In this role, James delivered a number of initiatives focused on improving engagement with Aboriginal, LGBTIQA+, and communities experiencing vulnerability and disadvantage. This also included delivering a pilot project with EWOV and Council of the Ageing, to notify energy retailers of a customer death (now a national service).

James joined EWOV in January 2021 as Head of Operations and Experience where he has been focused on working with the team to deliver improvements to the way we work with customers and members to more effectively resolve energy and water disputes.