Farm Guide VIC : 2008 - 2009
92 Essential Services It has a special responsibility to help customers in accessing full retail energy competition and understanding their rights and obligations. The Commission’s role in the energy distribution sector has focused heavily on reliability of supply, particularly in electricity. In 2006, it established a regime for guaranteed service level payments (GSL) payments for electricity customers. Customers may be eligible to receive GSL payments should electricity supply and service standards – such as the level and duration of outages – fall below established thresholds. In addition, the Essential Services Commission plays an integral role in the development of Victoria’s renewable energy market. It administers the Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET) scheme, which mandates that the State’s consumption of energy generated from renewable sources be increased to 10 percent by 2016. Water Through 2007-08, the Essential Services Commission was closely involved in the pricing proposals of water businesses across regional Victoria. Rural water and urban water businesses in regional areas submitted their water plans for the 2008-13 period to the Commission, which then consulted widely with the water businesses and their customer groups. The Commission’s price review included a rigorous scrutiny of the water businesses’ pricing proposals, to ensure that the scale of the price rises was fully justified. In particular, the Commission paid special attention to the effect of severe drought conditions and the requirement for water businesses to provide the necessary infrastructure to ensure ongoing water supply. During its price review, the ESC paid particular attention to the needs of irrigators and farmers requiring water for livestock purposes. In addition, the Commission reported annually on the performance of the state’s water businesses, comparing a range of measures on pricing, consumption and service standards. Rail The Essential Services Commission sets rail pricing of the Victorian rail freight system. In 2006, it finalised access arrangements for the Victorian country freight network for a three-year period; these arrangements will be up for review in early 2009. Access arrangements set out indicative terms and conditions for the provision of rail infrastructure services, as well as the process to be followed by the access provider when there are applications for access to the rail freight system. Grain handling and ports In 2007-08, the Commission also determined general access conditions and charges for the export grain terminals at the Ports of Portland, Melbourne and Geelong. It was required to approve undertakings on terms and conditions presented by two operators, GrainCorp and the Australian Bulk Alliance. The Commission is also required on an ongoing basis to arbitrate disputes in relation to the monitoring of export grain handling and storage facilities. In the ports area, the Commission publishes an annual monitoring report on port prices, activities and service standards, as part of the price monitoring framework that applies to the Victorian commercial trading ports of Melbourne, Geelong, Portland and Hastings. Contacting the Essential Services Commission The Essential Services Commission is located at Level 2, 35 Spring Street, Melbourne, and can be contacted on (03) 9651 0222 or 1300 664 969. Further details about the ESC and its work are at www.esc.vic.gov.au.
2009 - 2010