Embedded networks (August 2015)

While most Victorians buy their electricity from a licensed energy retailer, some customers buy from an embedded network – also known as an “exempt seller” or “on-seller”.

What is an embedded network?

An embedded network is a small electricity distribution network that distributes and sells electricity exclusively to homes or businesses within a specific property or area – such as an apartment building, shopping centre, caravan park or retirement village.

Embedded networks are supplied through a connection point to the wider distribution network. The operator of an embedded network buys electricity in bulk and then on-sells the electricity to each connection inside the embedded network. Within the embedded network, each occupant’s consumption is individually metered using a sub-meter, called a “child meter”.

Embedded network operators manage the infrastructure and distribution of electricity within the network, as well as billing and customer service.

What rules apply to embedded networks?

Because of the small scale of their operations, embedded networks in Victoria are exempt from the usual requirement to hold an energy retail licence – hence the term “exempt seller”. However, embedded networks still have to follow “applicable provisions” in the Energy Retail Code. The Code contains important terms and conditions about, for example, bill contents, payment arrangements and disconnection.

The Victorian Government and the energy regulator, the Essential Services Commission, are currently reviewing the rules that apply to embedded networks.

Who can help if I have a complaint about an embedded network?

Embedded networks are not participants in the EWOV scheme. Unfortunately, this means that while we can provide general information and referral, we can’t handle complaints about embedded networks.

Usually, when EWOV receives a complaint from an embedded network customer, we refer them to Consumer Affairs Victoria or the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

There are some exceptions. For example, if a customer within an embedded network has a complaint about a supply issue that has occurred with the wider distribution network, such as an outage or voltage variation, we can handle a complaint against the distribution company. Similarly, we can often assist with complaints that involve both a licensed retailer and an embedded network – for example, where a customer is being billed by both companies.  

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