Canberra, Australia --- (METERING.COM) --- July 3, 2012 - The new National Energy Customer Framework (NECF) for the retail sale of electricity and gas in Australia came into force on July 1, commencing initially in the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania.

New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia will commence the NECF as soon as is practicable. Queensland is yet to consider its application of the NECF. (In Western Australia and the Northern Territory separate energy industry frameworks apply.)

The NECF forms part of the national regulatory reform program and is aimed to streamline the regulation of energy distribution and retail regulation functions through the transfer of state and territory responsibilities to a single set of national laws, regulations and rules.

The NECF covers a range of issues, including the contractual governance model that forms the basis of the framework, the supply of energy to retail customers including a regulatory obligation to offer supply to small customers, the provision of customer distribution services to customers, arrangements between distributors and retailers in the provision of energy services to customers, and enhancements to the enforcement and compliance regime.

Responsibility for administering the National Energy Retail Rules (NERR) resides with the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC). The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) takes over the responsibility for regulating energy retailers from state and territory energy regulators as those states and territories adopt the NECF.

Among the benefits to consumers are new national consumer protections and resources. These include new a price comparator service (energymadeeasy.gov.au), which has been set up by the AER. Among other features the site enables users to compare energy offers and to understand their usage and compare it to other households in their area.