Overview

The Retail Gas Contracts Scheme is a voluntary scheme which assesses standard published gas contracts against a set of Benchmarks and Reasonable Consumer Expectations (RCEs) on a 3-yearly basis.

The Independent Assessor's Benchmark Review Assessment Report - 2023, evaluated 11 published supply arrangements (9 residential and 2 business or other arrangements) across 9 retailers supplying consumers.

The overall alignment of all published supply arrangements against the Benchmarks and RCEs is 'Substantial', in line with the trend over previous such assessments.

See the 2023 Report in the Previous assessments section. 

The Previous assessments section contains the results of the 2023, 2018, 2015 and 2012 Full Assessments, together with the Transitional Assessment in 2011, and the Baseline Assessment in 2010.

The Background section provides information on the original recommendation and consultation, minor amendments to the scheme, and the full scheme review carried out in 2013.

 

Consultation on review of benchmarks and RCEs 

Gas Industry Co invites stakeholders' views on our consultation paper on the review of the Scheme's benchmarks and RCEs.

The paper is available below and seeks stakeholders' views on:

  • a number of the Scheme's benchmarks or our interpretation of those benchmarks
  • Reasonable Consumer Expectations (RCEs).

These are prefaced by an overview of the Scheme and broader context including previous independent assessment of retailer alignment and noting Consumer Care Guidelines developments.

Consultation closed on 17 May 2024 and we received 3 submissions which are available below under Related Documents.

Related documents

  • Nova submission Retail Gas Contracts Oversight Scheme review consultation 2024
    262 KB Adobe Acrobat PDF file
  • Hanergy submission Retail Gas Contracts Oversight Scheme review consultation 2024
    453 KB Adobe Acrobat PDF file
  • UDL submission Retail Gas Contracts Oversight Scheme review consultation 2024
    802 KB Adobe Acrobat PDF file

Previous assessments

Since the introduction of the Retail Gas Contracts Oversight Scheme, six assessments have been conducted: a baseline assessment in 2010, a 'transitional' assessment in 2011, and full assessments in 2012, 2015, 2018 and 2023.

Simpson Grierson was the Independent Assessor we appointed to conduct the 2018 assessment (and again for the 2023 assessment). Previous assessments were carried out by Elwood Law and Roger Palairet of Palairet Law.

The 2023 Report can be found below in Related documents.  All previous assessments are below in Key areas

Key areas

As with previous such assessments, alignment of retailer contract terms with the Scheme’s Benchmarks has again been assessed on a scale of full, substantial, moderate and low.  In 2023 overall alignment has been assessed as ‘substantial’, with all 11 sets of retailer terms and conditions being substantially aligned with the Benchmarks.

The 2023 result of substantial alignment is consistent with the trend shown in the following table summarising the retailers’ alignment with the Benchmarks over time.

Overall Alignment

2023

2018

2015

2012

2011

Full

-

-

-

-

-

Substantial

11

9

9

6

3

Moderate

-

-

1

3

4

Low

-

-

-

1

3

TOTAL

11

9

10

10

10

 

Similar to the last assessment in 2018, the Benchmarks with the highest number of non-compliances across all retailers are Benchmarks 8 (clear price increases), 13 (clear disconnection processes) and 16 (clear description of liability and redress), and will be a continued focus to address areas of non-alignment.

Related documents

  • Benchmark Assessment Report - June 2023
    2 MB Adobe Acrobat PDF file

The Independent Assessor has reviewed retail contracts as at 1 July 2018 against the benchmarks and Reasonable Consumer Expectations (introduced following a review of the Scheme in 2013). 

The overall alignment of all published gas supply arrangements against the benchmarks in the 2018 assessment is “Substantial”. While this is the same level of alignment as was achieved in 2012 and 2015, the 2018 result is stronger than the 2015 result with all arrangements assessed having substantial overall alignment, as illustrated by the following comparison of the arrangements assessed in the 2011 transitional assessment and the full assessments in 2012 and 2015:

Overall Alignment

2018

2015

2012

2011

Full

-

-

-

-

Substantial

9

9

6

3

Moderate

-

1

3

4

Low

-

-

1

3

TOTAL

9

10

10

10

 

As was the case in 2012 and 2015, the 2018 results identify retailers individually and discuss each retailer’s level of compliance against the benchmarks.

Related documents

  • Benchmark Review Assessment Report - October 2018
    1.6 MB Adobe Acrobat PDF file

The Independent Assessor reviewed retail contracts as at 1 July 2015 against the benchmarks and Reasonable Consumer Expectations (introduced following a review of the Scheme in 2013). 

The overall alignment of all published gas supply arrangements against the benchmarks in the 2015 assessment is “substantial”. While this is the same level of alignment as was achieved in 2012, the 2015 result is much stronger than the 2012 result, as illustrated by the following comparison of the arrangements assessed in the 2011 transitional assessment and the full assessments in 2012 and 2015:

Overall Alignment

2015

2012

2011

Full

-

-

-

Substantial

9

6

3

Moderate

1

3

4

Low

-

1

3

TOTAL

10

10

10

 

As was the case in 2012, the 2015 results identify retailers individually and discuss each retailer’s level of compliance against the benchmarks.

 

Related documents

  • Benchmark Review Assessment Report - November 2015
    950 KB Adobe Acrobat PDF file

The third assessment of retail gas supply arrangements with small consumers under the Retail Contracts Assessment Scheme was conducted on contracts as at July 2012. The results for the first time included the assessment outcome for individual retailers, as well as at a consolidated level.

The Independent Assessor reported retailers' overall alignment with the Benchmarks in 2012 as 'Substantial', which was significantly improved from the consolidated ratings of 'Moderate' in each of the initial baseline assessment in 2010, and the subsequent transitional assessment in 2011.

Minister of Energy and Resources Media Release.

Related documents

  • Benchmark Assessment Report - October 2012
    1.1 MB Adobe Acrobat PDF file
  • News Release - November 2012
    136 KB Adobe Acrobat PDF file

A "transitional" assessment of arrangements at 1 July 2011 was undertaken by Elwood Law to establish the degree of progress made by each retailer in aligning with the benchmarks since the baseline assessment. A consolidated report for the whole industry was submitted to the Acting Minister and can be viewed below.

Related documents

  • Report - September 2011
    1015 KB Adobe Acrobat PDF file

The first step in implementing the oversight scheme was to conduct a 'baseline assessment' of existing gas supply arrangements. The Assessor identified certain areas of concern where retail gas contracts were poorly aligned with the benchmarks. However, it was also found that, in practice, the gas retailers' operations appear to achieve the intent of the benchmarks. It was thus concluded that greater alignment could be achieved through better general descriptions of practice in the gas supply arrangements.

Individual retailers received the baseline assessment results for their own contractual arrangements and were given an opportunity to comment on the draft reports before receiving final versions. None of the individual retailer reports were published by Gas Industry Co.

A consolidated report for the whole industry was submitted to the Associate Minister and published.

Related documents

  • Retail Gas Contracts Consolidated Baseline Assessment - September 2010
    327 KB Adobe Acrobat PDF file

Related documents

  • Benchmark Assessment Report - June 2023
    2 MB Adobe Acrobat PDF file

Background to the Scheme

This section contains information on the development, scope and structure of the Retail Gas Contracts Oversight Scheme from the original recommendation to the more recent review of the scheme.

We introduced the Retail Gas Contracts Oversight Scheme in 2010, after endorsement by the then Minister of Energy and Resources.

What the Scheme does

The Scheme is designed to achieve improved outcomes for small gas consumers, that is those using less than 10 terajoules of gas per year. More than 260,000 gas consumers, about 99% of the national total, use less than this volume each year, and the vast majority are subject to contracts covered by the Scheme.

The Scheme assesses published gas supply arrangements offered by gas retailers against a set of contract Benchmarks and Reasonable Consumer Expectations (RCEs).

It addresses the 2008 Government Policy Statement (GPS) objective of ensuring that 'contractual arrangements between gas retailers and small consumers adequately protect the long-term interests of small consumers'.

Original consultation

We consulted in 2009, building on our previous work on retail contracts and other work on model contract guidelines done in conjunction with the Electricity Commission and Utilities Disputes (formerly known as the EGCC).

The consultation proposed 2 options:

  • voluntary adoption of the benchmark terms with regular monitoring, or
  • regulated implementation of the minimum terms, subject to the existing compliance regime.

After more industry consultation, in March 2010, we finalised a full proposed design for the oversight of the voluntary implementation of retail contract benchmarks and presented it to the Associate Minister of Energy and Resources for consideration. It was endorsed in May 2010.

More information

  • All information and relevant documents relating to this work can be found below under Original Recommendation and Consultation.
  • See 2011 Benchmark Restatement below to read more about the review and restatement of the Retail Gas Contracts Benchmarks in 2011.
  • See 2012 Minor Benchmark Amendments below for more information on minor amendments to the Benchmarks made in 2012.
  • See 2013 Scheme Review below to read about the 2013 review of the Scheme to assess its success.

Key Areas

We implemented the Retail Gas Contracts Oversight Scheme (Scheme) in 2010 and, over the next 3 years, published baseline, transitional, and full assessment of gas retailers’ contractual arrangements. In line with the original recommendation to the Minister of Energy and Resources, and in response to the improving trend of alignment over the 3 years of assessments, we undertook a review of the Scheme to assess its success.

Result of scheme review

On 23 April 2014, after a review of the Retail Gas Contracts Oversight Scheme, we wrote to the Minister advising on the continuation of the Scheme, with the following amendments:

  • retail gas contracts will no longer be reviewed on an annual basis, but on a 3-yearly basis (with a scope to review contracts for new entrant retailers or amended contracts on an 'as required' basis)
  • we will make some amendments to the benchmarks to improve the Scheme.

The Minister replied to our letter on 14 May 2014 (see letter below), noting the continuation of the Scheme and being kept updated on the Scheme's progress from time to time.

The next full assessment of the standard published consumer gas contracts took place in 2015. Contracts were assessed against the amended benchmarks and newly introduced 'Reasonable Consumer Expectations' which are included in related documents below.

Related Information

Result of Scheme Review
Summary of Submissions : Statement of Proposal (3 April 2014)
Statement of Proposal: Retail Gas Contracts Oversight Scheme (6 January 2014)
Retail Gas Contracts: Review of the Oversight Scheme (13 June 2013)

Related documents

  • Retail Contracts Oversight Scheme Benchmarks - as at April 2014
    181 KB Adobe Acrobat PDF file
  • Reasonable Consumer Expectations
    24 KB Adobe Acrobat PDF file
  • Reply from Minister - May 2014
    386 KB Adobe Acrobat PDF file

On 6 March 2012 Gas Industry Co published minor amendments to Benchmarks 9 and 16. 

Related documents

  • Amendments to Benchmarks 9 and 16 - March 2012
    534 KB Adobe Acrobat PDF file
  • Amendment to Interpretation benchmark 16
    224 KB Adobe Acrobat PDF file

On 12 May 2010, the Associate Minister of Energy and Resources endorsed the oversight arrangements of gas retail contracts as set out in our Recommendation dated March 2010 (the Recommendation).

We undertook a "baseline review" of gas supply arrangements as at 15 June 2010 (the Baseline Review). As part of that process, we gave the Independent Assessor guidance on how the retail contract terms benchmarks set out in the Recommendation should be interpreted.

Following the baseline review, together with the Independent Assessor we reviewed the process and determined that the Benchmarks, as originally consulted upon, would benefit from being reorganised or a 'restatement'. The restatement of the benchmarks did not substantially alter them. Rather the benchmarks were reordered and re-framed, duplication and irrelevant statements were removed, and clarity enhanced.

Related documents

  • Retail Gas Contracts Benchmarks (Restatement) - June 2011
    283 KB Adobe Acrobat PDF file

We began work on retail contracts in 2005, which resulted in the development of proposed Model Contract Guidelines by the Model Contract Guidelines Working Group. However, this work was set aside and instead adopting the Electricity and Gas Complaints Commission (EGCC) Code of Practice was recommended to the Minister. The recommendation was not actioned for several reasons, and we revisited our work in this area in December 2007.

Building on our previous work and other work on model contract guidelines done in conjunction with the Electricity Commission and the EGCC, we published a consultation paper presenting a set of benchmark, or minimum, contract terms governing domestic and small consumer gas supply arrangements in October 2009. The two options were: voluntary adoption of the benchmark terms with regular monitoring, or regulated implementation of the minimum terms, subject to the existing compliance regime. 

Following further industry consultation, we finalised a full proposed design for the oversight of the voluntary implementation of retail contract benchmarks and presented it to the Associate Minister of Energy and Resources for consideration in March 2010. The design was endorsed in May 2010.

All relevant documents relating to this work are available below.

Related Information

Recommendation to the Associate Minister of Energy and Resources on the endorsement of arrangements for the oversight of gas retail contracts
Proposed design for the oversight of voluntary implementation of retail contract benchmarks
Analysis of Submissions and Response to the Options for the Governance of Retail Contract Terms consultation paper
Options for the Governance of Retail Contract Terms - Consultation Paper
Response to Analysis of Submissions on the Consumer Issues Consultation paper dated 18 August 2008
Discussion Paper - Current Issues for Domestic and Small Business Gas Consumers
Options for Consumer Contract Arrangements
Last updated: 30/05/2024, 5:26 pm

Stay in touch

Keep up to date with our latest news and analysis by subscribing to our regular newsletter