The natural gas industry in WA
The natural gas that makes its way through to your home can only get there one way – through our pipes. Because of the cost associated with building and maintaining this large network, it obviously makes sense to have a single distribution network.
Given we are the only owners, this essentially makes ATCO a monopoly in the distribution of natural gas in our regions.To make sure we provide a quality service and a fair cost, our operations are governed by rules, regulations and legislation.
You can read more about the national gas framework, the WA legislation and the way we are regulated by the Economic Regulation Authority and Energy Safety below.
WA Gas Network Regulation
Gas Regulatory and Licensing Framework
Access to gas in Western Australia is regulated by a national framework agreed to in 1994.
This uniform national framework is useful for a number of reasons:
- Facilitate the development and operation of a national market for natural gas;
- Prevent abuse of monopoly power;
- Promote a competitive market for natural gas where customers can choose suppliers, including producers, retailers and traders;
- Rights of access to natural gas pipelines are provided under are fair and reasonable conditions for the owners and operators of gas transmission and distribution pipelines and those wishing to use the services of those pipelines; and
- Provide for resolution of disputes.
ATCO also holds a Gas Distribution Licence, as required by the Energy Coordination Act 1994
More information relating to Western Australia’s regulatory and licensing framework is available on the Economic Regulation Authority website.
Gas Customer Code
ATCO is bound by the Gas Customer Code (known officially as the Compendium of Gas Customer Licence Obligations), to protect the interests of “small use customers”.
Administered by the Economic Regulation Authority, this Code covers important parts of how you access natural gas, including billing, payment, disconnections, reconnections and how you receive information and communications.
Receipt or delivery point change policy
ATCO’s receipt or delivery point change policy is detailed in ATCO’s Access Arrangement.
In addition, for a receipt point change:
ATCO maintains the list of receipt points in accordance with Retail Market Procedure Clause 15 – Identification of sub-networks, gas zones and gate points¬. ATCO must provide at least 40 business days’ notice to AEMO and Users of its intention to change or add new receipt point(s).
Furthermore, for a delivery point change:
ATCO provides change notices to AEMO and relevant Users when:
a) a new delivery point is connected to the GDS, in which case ATCO must promptly provide a notice in accordance with RMP Clause 65 – MIRNs becoming commissioned for the first time;
b) a delivery point is decommissioned (turned off) or recommissioned (turned on) in accordance with RMP Part 3.5 – Disconnection and reconnection of delivery points;
c) a delivery point is permanently removed from the GDS in accordance with RMP Part 3.6 – Removing delivery points and deregistering MIRNs;
Balancing policy (template service agreement)
ATCO’s balancing policy is detailed in its template service agreement, which forms part of ATCO’s Access Arrangement.
For policies related to self-contracting customers: See section 5.6 of AEMO’s “OVERVIEW GUIDE TO THE WESTERN AUSTRALIAN GAS RETAIL MARKET." The prospective self-contracting customers should contact AEMO for information and guidance on market registration and entry.
Natural Gas Law
Third party access to gas infrastructure is regulated by the National Gas Law (NGL) in Australia.
Before the NGL was applied in WA by the National Gas Access (WA) Act of 2009, access to gas infrastructure was regulated under the Gas Pipeline Access (Western Australia) Act 1998.
Other relevant documents that regulate access to gas infrastructure are listed below:
- The National Gas Access (WA)(Part 3) Regulations 2009
- The National Gas Access (WA)(Local Provisions) Regulations 2009
- The National Gas Rules (NGR)
Under the NGA a Covered Pipeline Service Provider of a Pipeline that is regulated by the NGA is required to lodge an Access Arrangement with the Economic Regulation Authority.
An Access Arrangement is an agreed document that outlines the terms and conditions that govern how access to the pipeline will be made available to third parties, including gas retailers.
Important features of the NGA are:
- Coverage - the mechanism by which Pipelines (including distribution systems) become subject to the NGA;
- Reliance on an up-front Access Arrangement outlining Services and Reference Tariffs applicable to a Covered Pipeline;
- Pricing principles;
- Ring fencing;
- Information disclosure requirements;
- Binding arbitration where there is a dispute; and
- Specific timelines for all processes.
The aim of the NGA is to provide sufficient prescription so as to reduce substantially the number of likely arbitrations, while at the same time incorporating enough flexibility for the parties to negotiate contracts within an appropriate framework.
Read more information relating to the National Gas Access (WA) Act 2009
The ATCO Gas Australia Mid West and South West Gas Distribution System (MWSWGDS) is a covered pipeline under the National Gas Access (WA) Act 2009. The terms and conditions of access to the MWSWGDS are detailed in the following documents:
ATCO Gas Australia Access Arrangement for the Mid-West South-West Gas Distribution System; and
ATCO Gas Australia Access Arrangement Information for the Mid-West South-West Gas Distribution System
These documents, related to the current (2014-2019) Access Arrangement are available on the Economic Regulation Authority website.
As part of this arrangement, we’ve made a commitment to:
- Continue to seek efficiencies to ensure the lowest cost provision of safe and reliable gas supply
- Grow the network where it is economically viable to do so, ensuring our existing customers benefit through lower prices over the longer term
- Keep our customers, and through them, WA consumers, informed of any changes that will affect their service or prices over time
The safety of the Western Australian community, including our employees and other contractors working with or around our gas distribution infrastructure is our top priority.
To ensure we maintain the highest possible safety standards we are regulated by EnergySafety, a division of the Western Australian Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety.
You can read more about how we are regulated by EnergySafety on their website.