Frontier report on giving customers a greater voice in urban water sector

In 2011, Australia’s National Water Commission called for governments, regulators and service providers to ensure that the urban water sector gives a greater voice to customers. The Commission recommended that several options for reform be considered. These included exploring opportunities for customer choice in pricing and service delivery, improved community engagement, improved customer protection frameworks, and the introduction of greater competition.

Frontier (Australia) has undertaken a review of urban water customer choice options, policy drivers and regulatory instruments for the Commission. The review aimed to contribute to informed discussion on the role of customer choice in urban water service delivery. It examined the regulatory instruments and policy drivers underpinning customer choice and documents practical case studies and lessons for which national policy directions and principles are formulated.

The review identified a number of opportunities for enhancing the role of customer choice and a greater customer voice in supporting the National Water Initiative high-level objectives of water security, safety, efficiency and sustainability. These include:

● rolling out State-based third party access and related licensing regimes and customer protection frameworks to make it easier for new entrants;
● providing greater flexibility in regulatory arrangements for water businesses to propose alternative tariffs, subject to a number of safeguards;
● developing national best practice principles on customer engagement; and
● ensuring that regulators or other agencies making decisions on standards to apply to water and related services (including long-term supply-demand planning processes) engage with customers and the broader community.

Frontier (Australia) regularly advises the National Water Commission and other clients on water policy in the urban water sector.

For more information, please contact Marita O’Keeffe at m.okeeffe@frontier-economics.com or call on +61 (0)3 9620 4488.

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