Under the Water Charge (Infrastructure) Rules 2010 (WCIR), Part 6 provides for the determination or approval of regulated charges of Part 6 operators by an independent regulator. The regulator is the ACCC unless an eligible state regulator applies for, and is granted, accreditation under Part 9 of the WCIR.
Under approved accreditation arrangements, the Essential Services Commission (Victoria) (ESCV) currently regulates Part 6 operators in Victoria until 16 February 2022.
On 12 June 2019, the ESCV submitted its application to be the accredited regulator for the period 17 February 2022 to 16 February 2032 (reflecting the requirement under the WCIR to apply for accreditation for a period of ten years). Accreditation for this period will enable the ESCV to continue to regulate during the transition period for amendments to the water charge rules.
On 23 July 2019, the ACCC released its draft decision and sought submissions from stakeholders as part of its consultation process.
On 4 September 2019, the ACCC made a final decision to accredit the Essential Services Commission (Victoria) (ESCV) under Part 9 of the Water Charge (Infrastructure) Rules 2010 (WCIR).
On 1 July 2020, amendments to the water charge rules will commence. These amendments will alter the arrangements for regulating Part 6 operators and accrediting regulators under Part 9 of the WCIR. The ESCV (provided it remains accredited) will continue to regulate Part 6 operators in Victoria under the current arrangements during a transition period. The transition period lasts either:
- to the end of the latest regulatory period for which the ESCV has determined or approved an operator’s charges, as at 1 July 2020; or
- if an application for approval or determination of charges has been made but not approved or determined by 1 July 2020, to the end of the regulatory period for which the application was made.
Thereafter an operator’s charges will be regulated by the ESCV under state legislation provided this legislation meets the minimum requirements set out in the amended rules. Otherwise, the operator’s charges will be regulated by the ACCC.
The ACCC will provide further guidance on the amended water charge rules before commencement.