Consultation - have your say

The Board consults with providers, members, and the public on matters relating to the way Utilities Disputes operates.

Scheme document consultation

18 February 2019

Minister approves all changes

We received confirmation on 18 February, Minister Faafoi has approved all the Board’s proposed Scheme document changes arising from the 2018 levy review. The new documents are available here.

8 January 2019

Following consultation, the Board has asked the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs to approve changes to the Scheme documents for the Energy Complaints Scheme. The Minister has 45 days to consider the changes.

The Board would again like to thank everyone who engaged in consultation, and those who provided written submissions. We will send an update when we have heard back from the Minister.

The proposed changes are set out in these draft documents, with both clean and tracked versions. Please note - having tracked changes on creates formatting errors e.g. content slipping over to subsequent pages). These errors will be removed once finalised.

General and Scheme Rules (Tracked) [PDF 659KB]
Governance Charter and Constitution (Tracked) [PDF 596KB]

General and Scheme Rules (Clean) [PDF 578KB]
Governance Charter and Constitution (Clean) [PDF 553KB]

The summaries below explain the Board’s view on the levy-related review recommendations.

a Recommendation for removal of the day count trigger and a more graduated scale

The Board has decided to retain the day count trigger and not introduce a more graduated scale. The Board believes:

  • retaining the day count trigger incentivises providers to give early attention to a dispute and concerns about the “clock ticking” can be ameliorated through our ability to suspend cases as appropriate
  • a more graduated levy scale adds unnecessary complexity and administrative burden while placing more of a focus on time at the possible expense of quality

b Recommendation - fee for jurisdiction challenges

The Board has decided not to introduce a fee for jurisdiction challenges. The Board believes a fee for jurisdiction challenges conflicts with the principle of natural justice.

c Complainant’s engagement delaying the complaints process

The Board has asked Utilities Disputes to continue with its current methods of managing a lack of complainant engagement. The Board has passed on submitters’ comments to Utilities Disputes’ operations team to assist with its management of complainants and provider expectations.

d Recommendation for a fee for complaints reaching Utilities Disputes at deadlock

The Board has decided not to progress with a fee for complaints reaching Utilities Disputes at deadlock. The Board:

  • is wanting to raise awareness of Utilities Disputes’ and is conscious of any disincentive to providers sharing Utilities Disputes’ story
  • believes a fee for complaints reaching Utilities Disputes at deadlock may negatively impact the relationship with some providers
  • is conscious of the administrative burden created through a fee for complaints reaching Utilities Disputes at deadlock and the natural justice aspect of any resulting jurisdiction challenges
  • is giving further consideration of how it might share more information about complaints it receives at deadlock

e Recommendation for a minimum fee for membership

The Board has decided to introduce a $50 minimum levy for membership of the Energy Complaints Scheme. The Board believes $50 is an appropriate minimum fixed levy for the benefits all providers receive:

  • access to an independent dispute resolution scheme
  • ability to say they are members of a dispute resolution scheme
  • Utilities Disputes’ positive impact on the market through increased consumer confidence and provider certainty
  • Utilities Disputes’ communications and free training services such as webinars

f Transpower and First Gas levies

The Board has decided to:

  • adjust Transpower’s and First Gas’ fixed levies on the same basis as every distributor
  • initially increase Transpower and First Gas’ levies to match what they would have been if their increases had been at the same rate as every other provider since 2011, rather than at CPI

This means Transpower’s fixed levy will be $95,000 and First Gas’ levy (for its work operating the Gas Transmission Pipelines) will be $33,000, from April 1 2020.

The Board believes it is fair that any levy increase or decrease is appropriately spread across all providers. Transpower’s and First Gas’ are adjusted on the same basis as distributors as the Board believes it is most appropriate for transmission operators and distributors to see increases independent of retailers.

g Bulk membership

The Board has decided not to progress with a bulk membership proposal at this time. The Board has concerns about:

  • the ability for providers to misuse any bulk membership option
  • the potential for any bulk membership option to dilute our message

The Board notes it has scope within the current rules to sign up multiple members through agents. This still retains the direct relationship between Utilities Disputes and the provider. Associations and other industry bodies can already communicate Utilities Disputes requirements with their members. Utilities Disputes will continue to work closely with membership organisations to support them to share our story.

The Board also notes 13(a) of the Energy Complaints Scheme rules mean a complaint can be heard by Utilities Disputes about a provider that has not yet joined the scheme. This provision reduces concerns about consumers not having access to our process.

The draft documents also include a number of minor amendments to improve the clarity, readability, and flow of the rules. Examples include changing UDL to Utilities Disputes; removing the word that where it is unnecessary; and removing historical references and dates where they are no longer required.


21 December 2018

Consultation on the Energy Complaints Scheme levy review closed on 12 December. We received 12 submissions. The Board thanks all who engaged through the process and made a submission:

  • Meridian and Powershop
  • FinCap
  • Unison
  • Trustpower
  • Genesis
  • Contact
  • Powerco
  • Vector
  • Vocus
  • Mercury
  • Transpower
  • First Gas

Submissions have been put into a single PDF document, available here. 

The Board met on 19 December to consider submissions and decide what changes to propose to the Minister for approval.  In the new year, the Board will advise the Minister of the proposed changes and notify providers and stakeholders.


21 November 2018 

The Utilities Disputes Board is consulting with the membership group and other stakeholders on levy related recommendations from the independent review completed in 2017, and a proposal for a bulk membership option.

The consultation paper gives further context to the proposed changes and includes an appendix with questions the Board asks to help it decide the most appropriate way forward.

Closing date for the levy review consultation is 5pm on Wednesday 12 December 2018.
 
Electronic submissions in MS word format are preferred. All questions are included in the appendix, with space for submitters to answer and add comments.
 
Please send electronic submissions to submissions@utilitiesdisputes.co.nz
 
If you are not able to send your submission electronically, please post to: 

Submissions, Utilities Disputes
PO Box 5875, Wellington 6140, 
Freepost 192682

or fax to 0800 22 33 47.

Heather Roy
Independent Chair of the Utilities Disputes Board

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