Energy & Water Ombudsman

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The Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW (EWON) is the approved dispute resolution scheme for all electricity and gas customers in New South Wales, Australia, and water customers of Sydney Water, Hunter Water, Country Water, Gosford City Council, Shoalhaven Water, State Water Corporation, Wyong Shire Council and many other localised providers.

EWON is an industry-based ombudsman scheme, which means it is funded by its members. As with other Ombudsmen in Australia and around the world, EWON's service is free for consumers.

EWON models and evaluates its service against the six industry-standard benchmarks for complaint-handling agencies:

  • Accessibility
  • Independence
  • Fairness
  • Accountability
  • Efficiency
  • Effectiveness

In line with the benchmarks, EWON's decision-making process is independent. EWON is not a consumer advocate and does not represent industry. EWON works towards a fair and reasonable outcome for the parties involved in a dispute.

EWON's website http://www.ewon.com.au provides a range of free factsheets and information for consumers.

History[edit]

The Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW (ABN 21-079-718-915) was set up in 1998 by the six NSW electricity providers, and the transmission operator, as the Energy Industry Ombudsman NSW (EWON) scheme. It was the first industry complaints scheme in New South Wales. It is a free, independent service to help people sort out any unresolved problems with their electricity, gas or water supplier.

The founding members of EWON had decided that part of good customer service was the provision of a free dispute resolution service that was independent of the industry. Clare Petre, then a Senior Assistant Commonwealth Ombudsman, was appointed in early 1998 as the first Energy Industry Ombudsman NSW.

In December 1999 Sydney Water joined the scheme and EWON was renamed the Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW (EWON).

EWON now provides a one-stop complaint resolution service for all electricity and gas customers in New South Wales and some water providers.

Timeline[edit]

1996 Structural reform of the electricity industry sees six retailer/distributior entities created as State owned corporations under the Energy Services Corporations Act 1995. The Electricity Association of New South Wales, representing the electricity providers, proposes the establishment of an ombudsman scheme similar to the Victorian Electricity Industry Ombudsman and other industry dispute resolution schemes.
1997 A working group of industry, government and consumer representatives advises on the structure and operation of the new scheme. The Board of Directors of Energy Industry Ombudsman (NSW) Limited, comprising representatives of all members of the scheme, is formally established and registered.
1998 The Council of the Energy Industry Ombudsman NSW meets, comprising Chair Gae Pincus and equal representatives of consumer and industry interests. Clare Petre is appointed Energy Industry Ombudsman NSW and Helen Swan is appointed Business Manager. EWON is officially launched by the [then] Minister for Energy, the Hon Bob Debus on 9 June. Along with the Victorian and Tasmanian Electricity Ombudsman schemes, EWON establishes the National Electricity Ombudsman Network (NEON). This network evolves to become the Australia & New Zealand Energy and Water Ombudsman Network (ANZEWON). The NSW government regulates to require inclusion of information about EWON on all reminder and disconnection notices.
2000 NSW Ombudsman and EWON sign a Memorandum of Understanding. AGL, a private company gas provider, joins the scheme. Under the Electricity Supply Amendment Act 2000, it becomes a licence condition for all electricity retailers to join an approved ombudsman scheme. EWON’s jurisdiction is extended to cover electricity issues for residents of residential parks, and small businesses supplied by other exempt retailers. Former Deputy Prime Minister Lionel Bowen is appointed Chair of the EWON Council. EWON runs its first outreach program to multicultural communities and promotes its services to Arabic, Chinese, Italian and Vietnamese groups.
2001 Under the Gas Supply Amendment (Retail Competition) Act, it becomes a condition of licence for gas retailers to join an industry approved scheme.

The Minister for Energy approves EWON as electricity and gas industry ombudsman for NSW. EWON hosts its first industry and consumer seminar on payment options for customers in hardship and its first forum for member providers. The first independent review of the scheme is conducted, including the first customer satisfaction survey.

2002 Office of Fair Trading and EWON sign a Memorandum of Understanding. The NSW market is opened to full retail competition and second-tier energy retailers join the scheme. Hunter Water joins the scheme.
2003 Emeritus Professor Stuart Rees is appointed Chair of the EWON Council. EWON celebrates its 5th anniversary. EWON appoints its first Indigenous Project Officer to conduct an outreach project to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. As part of the Indigenous outreach, Vee Thornbury, a Wiradjuri artist, is commissioned to produce an artwork telling the story of EWON.
2004 EWON hosts a forum where Professor Tony Vinson presents findings from his research report on social disadvantage, Community Adversity and Resilience. Launch of EWON’s revised website featuring an online complaint form in English and 12 community languages.
2005 IPART (Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal) and EWON sign a Memorandum of Understanding.
2006 EWON hosts a forum for retailers on issues arising from energy marketing.
2007 EWON hosts a forum for retailers and distributors on business-to-business issues impacting on customers.
2008 The Ombudsman meets with the Unsworth Committee regarding its review of the customer impact of the proposed privatisation of state owned energy retailers.

EWON hosts a roundtable discussion with second-tier retailers and community advocates.

2009 Gas Supply Amendment (Ombudsman Scheme) Bill 2009 passed requiring gas distributors (reticulators) to be members of EWON as a condition of licence.

EWON's Constitution is changed to allow for a broader range of water providers to join the scheme.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]