Gas Regulation in Tasmania
The Regulator's responsibilities in relation to the regulation of the gas industry is articulated in the Gas Industry Act 2019 and any accompanying regulations.
The Gas Industry Act imposes on the Regulator responsibilities in relation to the construction and operation of the gas supply industry in Tasmania from transmission, through distribution to the retailing of gas to consumers to ensure the efficient operation of the industry and take proper account of the (non-safety) interests of those gas consumers. Consumer safety is the responsibility of the Director of Gas Safety under the Gas Safety Act 2019.
The Regulator's responsibilities are supported by:
- the Gas Distribution Code which sets the minimum
standards for the operation of a distribution system and the terms and
conditions under which distribution services are to be provided to gas retail
- the Gas Retail Code which establishes the minimum
terms on which a retailer must sell gas to small customers;
- the Gas Customer Transfer and Reconciliation Code which sets out obligations concerning the provision of information, the
customer transfer process, standards for metering and process for the allocation
and reconciliation of gas quantities between retailers; and
- the Gas Bulk Customer Transfer Code which sets out the bulk customer transfer process. This process may apply in certain circumstances to facilitate a change in retailer.
In the administration of the Gas Industry Act, the codes and other related regulatory instruments, a number of functions are vested with the Regulator including the:
- administration of the licensing system, for gas licensees, established by the Act;
- establishment, monitoring and publication of standards and codes in respect of gas activities provided by gas licensees;
- reporting on the state of the gas industry; and
- granting of gas infrastructure licences and gas retail licences.
The Act provides administrative penalty arrangements, allowing the Regulator to impose monetary sanctions where gas licensees fail to comply with the Act or a condition of their licence.
The price of natural gas is not regulated as it is not considered an essential service because its pricing must be competitive with electricity in order to gain customers. This need to be competitive imposes pricing restraint which might otherwise need to be imposed by regulation.
While the Regulator has certain statutory responsibilities, a major share of the responsibility for implementation and further development of the regulatory scheme rests with the entities. The approach taken in all licences has been "light handed". The Regulator has not sought to intervene in the day-to-day management of the entities. Rather, the Regulator seeks to ensure that all stakeholders are provided with sufficient information to properly assess the performance of the entities in meeting their regulatory obligations. The primary emphasis is on transparency and disclosure, with investigation and sanction reserved to be used when and if appropriate.