The Commission is a statutory authority established under the Utilities Commission Act 2000. It is the independent economic regulator for the NT, constituted by the Utilities Commissioner and Associate Commissioners.
The object of the Utilities Commission Act 2000 is to create an economic regulatory framework for regulated industries that promotes and safeguards competition and fair and efficient market conduct or, in the absence of a competitive market, promotes the simulation of competitive market conduct and the prevention of the misuse of monopoly power.
The Commission considers its primary objective is to protect the long‑term interests of NT consumers of services provided by regulated industries with respect to price, reliability and quality.
Powers and functions
The Utilities Commission Act 2000 defines a general set of functions for the Commission. The Commission’s specific roles in regulated industries are defined in industry‑specific legislation.
The key regulatory functions of the Commission are:
- price and access regulation
- licensing across the electricity supply, water supply and sewerage services industries
- to develop, monitor and enforce compliance with, and promote investment in, standards and conditions of service and supply
- to make, and monitor the operation of codes and rules relating to the conduct or operations of a regulated industry or licensed entities
- to investigate and help resolve complaints relating to the conduct and operations of licensed entities
- to assist consumers and others with information
- to provide advice to the Minister on any matters referred by the minister.
In performing the Commission’s functions, the Utilities Commission Act 2000 requires that the Commission have regard to the need to:
- promote competitive and fair market conduct
- prevent misuse of monopoly or market power
- facilitate entry into relevant markets
- promote economic efficiency
- ensure consumers benefit from competition and efficiency
- protect the interests of consumers with respect to reliability and quality of services and supply in regulated industries
- facilitate maintenance of the financial viability of regulated industries
- ensure an appropriate rate of return on regulated infrastructure assets.
The Commission must also have regard to any relevant objectives in industry-specific legislation.
Regulated industry legislation overview
The Utilities Commission Act 2000 establishes the Commission’s objectives, functions and powers.
In accordance with the Ports Management Act 2015, the Commission administers a pricing and access regime for prescribed services provided by a private port operator at a designated port (currently only the Port of Darwin).
Electricity supply industry
Under the Electricity Reform Act 2000, the Commission is responsible for a licensing regime and industry codes for industry participants, regulates pricing orders made by the government, prepares annual reviews of the NT’s power system and electricity industry, and deals with complaints from industry participants.
Water supply and sewerage services industry
As required by the Water Supply and Sewerage Services Act 2000, the Commission administers a licensing regime and industry codes for industry participants, regulates a pricing order made by the government, and deals with complaints from industry participants.