Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

General Information
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What does IPART stand for?

IPART stands for the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal of NSW.

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What does IPART do?

Our core functions are conferred by legislation, delegations rules and access regimes established by legislation. These functions are to:

  • Set or recommend maximum prices for monopoly services in NSW (including water and public transport).
  • Administer licensing or authorisation of water, electricity and gas network businesses, and monitor compliance with licence conditions.
  • Advise the NSW Government or its agencies on issues such as pricing, efficiency, industry structure and competition.
  • Regulate private sector access to water and wastewater to encourage competition and re-use.
  • Maintain a local government cost index, determine the maximum percentage increase in local government general revenue (rate peg), determine special rate variations and review Councils development contributions plans.
  • Monitor competition and performance in the energy retail markets.
  • Administer the Energy Savings Scheme and associated register of energy savings certificates.
  • Register agreements for access to public infrastructure assets and arbitrate disputes about agreements for access to public infrastructure.
  • Investigate complaints about competitive neutrality referred to us by the NSW Government.
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What are IPART's purpose and goals?

IPART is an independent, strategic agency of NSW Government, charged with regulating key markets and government services to ensure effective social, environmental and economic outcomes for the people of NSW.

Our values:

  • Integrity & Courage
  • Respect & Inclusion
  • Curiosity & Openness
  • Making a difference
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Who are the key people at IPART?

The Tribunal is our statutory decision-making body. The members are appointed by the Minister for Customer Service and supported by a Secretariat employed by the Chair of the Tribunal.

The current permanent members include:

  • Ms Carmel Donnelly PSM, Chair
  • Mr Jonathan Coppel, Part Time Member
  • Mr Mike Smart, Deputy Member

The Secretariat, assists the Tribunal and its delegated committees by providing research, analysis, advice, and recommendations as well as supporting investigations and public processes.

The Secretariat is led by the Chief Executive Officer, Mr Andrew Nicholls PSM, who reports to the Chair and is responsible for day-to-day leadership and management of the Secretariat, and staff. Staff work across industry-based teams with skills across economics, finance, engineering, law, science, planning and modelling capabilities as well as teams providing strategic management, corporate services and communications activities.

IPART's Organisation Chart

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How does IPART make price determinations?

We make our price determinations after an extensive consultation and review process. Typically, this involves:

  • Advertising the price review
  • Publishing an issues paper that:
    • explains what we are reviewing
    • outlines our proposed approach to the review
    • discusses the key issues we will consider, and
    • invites all interested parties to make a written submission to the review.
  • Engaging consultants to provide expert analysis and advice where necessary.
  • Publishing all the submissions and consultant reports we receive on our website, subject to confidentiality.
  • Considering all the submissions and reports we receive and conducting our own research and analysis.
  • Making a draft determination, and publishing a draft report that:
    • explains our draft determination – including how and why we made our draft decisions, and their implications for the regulated business and its customers
    • invites all interested parties to make a submission in response to the draft report.
  • Considering all the submissions we receive in response to the draft report.
  • Making a final determination, and publishing a final report that explains our final determination – including how and why we reached our final decisions and their implications for the regulated business and its customers.
  • Publishing short fact sheets for consumers that explain how and why prices will change and how the changes will affect them.
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How do I get in contact with IPART?

We encourage stakeholders to contact us through our online form, by emailing ipart@ipart.nsw.gov.au or calling our office on (02) 9290 8400. We cannot receive or respond to faxed correspondence as we no longer use fax machines.

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How can I have my say?

The issues paper and draft report for all our reviews provide information on when and how to make a submission (usually at the start of the report, before the table of contents).

In making a submission, you can address:

  • some or all of the issues identified in the issues paper, or some or all of the draft decisions discussed in the draft report
  • any other issue you think is relevant to the review (taking into account the matters we are required to consider under either the relevant legislation or the terms of reference for the review).

For more information, see our Have your say page.

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What is the difference between a draft and final report?

IPART usually makes a draft determination or draft recommendations before we make our final decisions. We publish a draft report to explain our draft determination or recommendations, and invite stakeholders to provide feedback.

Our draft determinations and draft reports have no status or purpose other than to assist us in consulting with stakeholders and making our final decisions. In some cases, our final decisions are different from the draft decisions.

What is the difference between a determination and a recommendation?

Our determinations are made under powers conferred by legislation, and our final determinations are binding on the business or industry they relate to.

Our recommendations are usually made at the request of a NSW Government Minister, and our final recommendations are not binding. The Government has the final decision-making power.

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What can I do if I disagree with an IPART decision?

If you disagree with a final decision, your right of appeal will depend on the legislation or industry code under which we made the decision. Therefore, you may need to seek legal advice on how to proceed.

If you have a complaint about our review processes or administrative conduct, you should contact us by email, letter or telephone. We will acknowledge your complaint and attempt to address it. We will also register it as a submission to the review, if appropriate. If you are not happy with our response, you may make a complaint in writing to the NSW Ombudsman.

If you are concerned about a Government Information Public Access (GIPA) or privacy issue, you should contact us. You have various avenues of review available to you.

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How can I keep up-to-date with IPART's decisions?

You can check this website – all our decisions are published here at the time they are released. You can also subscribe to receive an email notification when we release a document in your area of interest.

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How can I obtain copies of old IPART reports?

This website contains all IPART documents published since 1996, view our publications.

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How can I provide feedback on my experience using this website?

We welcome comments on your experience using our website. Please send your feedback via our enquiries form.

Alternative, you can write to IPART, PO Box K35, Haymarket Post Shop, NSW 1240.

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How does IPART engage with social media?

IPART provides opportunities through this website and various social media channels to listen, inform and engage with the community on issues relating to reviews and determinations IPART undertakes.

These channels are actively monitored and updated by IPART during normal business hours (9am to 5pm) on a working day. IPART may change the format of social media engagement at any point, including by content (partially or in its entirety) and by removing any or all social media platforms from public view.

We welcome your participation via our social media channels. However, to ensure they are used constructively, we ask that you follow the guidelines below when contributing to any of our social media channels.

Twitter

We utilise Twitter to inform and engage on issues relating to our reviews and determinations for Twitter users who elect to watch or follow our Twitter feed.

If you follow IPART, you can expect to receive tweets relating to our review and determinations, invitations to provide feedback on specific issues and general information about the areas we regulate including electricity, gas, water, public transport, taxis and local government rates. However tweets are not public submissions. If you wish to make a public submission please see Having your say page.

Following

IPART may follow relevant organisations including government agencies, organisations in the policy and reform sector, and regulatory reviews where there is a clear link in communicating and receiving information.

If you follow @ipartnsw we will not automatically follow you back. This is to discourage the use of direct messaging, avoid resource wasting spam handling and so that you can easily identify other key Twitter users that we think are relevant to our work. Including an account on a Twitter list does not imply endorsement of any kind.

@replies and direct messages

We welcome feedback and ideas from all of our followers, and endeavour to join the conversation where possible. We are not able to reply individually to all of the messages we receive via Twitter, but endeavour to ensure that emerging themes or helpful suggestions are passed to the relevant people within IPART.

Re-tweeting

IPART seeks opportunities to re-tweet content that contributes to the dissemination and exchange of useful information about topics of relevance to IPART's work and likely to be of interest to our followers.

Re-tweeting does not imply endorsement by IPART of the views expressed in the tweeted content.

Official correspondence

The usual ways of contacting us for official correspondence, including formal submissions, are detailed in the contact us and submissions policy sections of our website.

If you have any questions, please contact us.

Energy
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Where can I find information about energy prices and solar feed-in tariffs?

Please see this page for information about energy prices and IPART’s role. See also energy frequently asked questions.

Local Government
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Local Gov – How are councils financed?

Councils obtain income from many sources including ordinary rates, special rates, water and sewerage rates, annual charges, fees, grants, borrowings and investments. More information is also available on the frequently asked questions section of the Office of Local Government NSW’s (OLG) Rates, Charges and Pensioner Concession page (see here).

IPART, via the rate peg and special variation decisions, limits the amount by which councils can increase their total ‘general income’, which includes revenue from ordinary rates.

IPART may also limit increases for annual charges for domestic waste management services.

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Local Gov – What is IPART’s role with respect to council finances?

Each year, IPART determines:

  • the rate peg (the maximum percentage by which a council may increase its general income for each financial year);
  • the waste peg (the maximum percentage by which councils can increase their annual charges for domestic waste management services).

Where a council makes an application to IPART, IPART determines:

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Local Gov – What is the rate peg?

The rate peg is the maximum percentage by which a council may increase its general income for the year. For most councils, general income consists entirely of rates income.

IPART typically calculates the rate peg using a methodology developed in consultation with stakeholders.

The rate peg may be different for different councils depending on factors such as population growth and the emergency services levy (ESL) contribution councils must pay to the NSW Government.

IPART may depart from the methodology in a given year if it considers it appropriate to do so. We have recently reviewed our rate peg methodology and have implemented a new methodology to apply from the rate peg for the 2024-25 financial year. For more information please see our Review of the rate peg methodology.

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Local Gov – What is a special variation?

If elected councillors resolve that a council needs additional revenue, a council can apply to IPART for a special variation to increase its general income by more than the applicable rate peg.

There are a range of reasons why a council may apply for a special variation, such as to:

  • address the financial sustainability of the council
  • fund new or enhanced community services to meet growing demand in the community
  • fund the development and/or maintenance of essential community infrastructure
  • fund projects of regional significance
  • cover special cost pressures that the council faces.

There are two types of special variations that a council may apply for under the Local Government Act 1993:

  • a single-year variation (section 508(2)) or
  • a multi-year special variation covering 2 to 7 consecutive years (section 508A).

Further information about special variations is also available in the Q&A sections below.

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Local Gov – Are all rates and charges limited by the rate peg or special variations?

No, only income from certain rates and charges are subject to the rate peg or special variation, such as income from ordinary rates.

Water, sewerage and stormwater rates and charges are not subject to the applicable rate peg or special variation percentage.

The applicable rate peg or special variation percentage is not a cap on individual ratepayers’ rates and charges. Rather, the applicable rate peg or special variation percentage limits the total general income that a council can obtain from all ratepayers in the council’s area.

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Local Gov – What is the waste peg?

The waste peg is the maximum percentage by which a council may increase annual charges for domestic waste management services for the year.

There are other limitations imposed on councils with respect to annual charges for domestic waste management services. For example, councils must ensure that income obtained from charges for domestic waste management does not exceed the reasonable cost to the council of providing those services.

You can find more information about the waste peg here.

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Local Gov – Where can I see all the rate peg, waste peg, special variation and minimum rate determinations made over time?

For the rate peg, please see here.

For the waste peg, please see here.

For special variation and minimum rates decisions, please see here.

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Local Gov – Why did my rates go up by more than the rate peg or special variation percentage?

The rate peg or a special variation limits the total level of general income that a council can recover from ratepayers. It is up to the council, as the democratically elected body, to decide whether to implement the full increase permitted by the applicable rate peg or special variation percentage and how to allocate that increase across its ratepayer base.

This means that your rates may increase by more than the rate peg or special variation percentage in a given year. In summary, this may occur where:

  1. your land has increased in value by more than other ratepayers in your local government area
  2. you pay the minimum amount of a rate and the minimum amount has increased by more than the rate peg or special variation percentage
  3. the council has restructured its rates.

More details about these reasons are provided below.

Land valuation

A routine increase in a ratepayer’s land value by the Valuer-General does not mean that a ratepayer's rates will automatically increase. The impact on rates depends on whether the land value has increased or decreased compared to others in the ratepayer’s local government area.

For instance, if your land has increased in value by more than the average in your local government area, you may be liable to pay a larger portion of the councils total general income.

Minimum rates

One option available to councils when structuring rates is to set the rate as an amount in dollar that is levied against the land value but to make this subject to a minimum amount, regardless of land value. These are sometimes referred to as minimum rates. 

Some, but not all, councils levy minimum rates.

Councils need to apply to IPART for minimum rate increases when they levy minimum rates in a particular rating category or sub-category and seek to increase these rates above what is referred to in the Local Government Act 1993 as “the statutory limit”.

If your council was approved for a minimum rate increase, the new applicable minimum rate that the council levies on you compared to the previous year’s ordinary rates may have increased by a higher percentage than the applicable rate peg or special variation percentage.

Further information about minimum rates is also available in the Q&A sections below.

Rating restructure

It is up to the council, as the democratically elected body, to decide how to allocate that increase across its ratepayer base.

For instance, a council may decide, in a given year, to allocate more of a rate increase to residential ratepayers than business ratepayers. This may mean that residential rates increase by more than the rate peg or a special variation percentage. Increases to the council’s total level of general income is constrained by the rate peg or special variation percentage.

Ratepayers can have their say about their council’s proposed rating structure through the annual budgeting process.

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Local Gov – Who do I contact if I am not happy about my rates?

It is not part of IPART’s role to advise individual ratepayers about their rates.

You can contact your council to ask about your rates and charges. Each council usually communicates its rating structure via its annual budgeting process through documents such as the Fees and Charges and Revenue Policy. 

You may also find relevant information on:

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Local Gov – Special Variations - How does IPART assess an application for a special variation?

IPART assesses applications for special variations in accordance with the criteria in the guidelines published by the Office of Local Government (OLG). The OLG criteria require councils to demonstrate the need for the additional revenue, provide evidence that the community is aware of the need for and extent of a rate rise, exhibit relevant planning documents, explain council’s productivity and cost containment actions and plans, and establish that the impact on affected ratepayers is reasonable. You can find a copy of the OLG Guidelines here.

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Local Gov – Special Variations – How are councils held accountable?

IPART requires all councils to report on the outcomes from their expenditure of the special variation in their annual reports. Matters relating to compliance with specific conditions of a special variation instrument is managed by the Office of Local Government.

Communities must be able to see that revenue from these rate increases is spent as intended.

Elected councillors are ultimately accountable to their communities through the democratic process.

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Local Gov – Special Variations – I disagree with IPART’s determination, can I request a review?

IPART’s rate peg and special variation decisions are not subject to merits review.

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Local Gov – What is the minimum amount of a rate?

Councils have discretion over how they structure their rates. A rate may consist of:

  • an amount in the dollar only
  • an amount in the dollar but subject to a minimum amount; or
  • a base amount to which an amount in the dollar is added.

Where a council decides to make a rate subject to a minimum amount, there are limits to how high the council can set the minimum amount of a rate. Where a council proposes to exceed these limits, it must apply to IPART for approval. IPART determines applications for minimum rates against criteria set by the Office of Local Government. You can find a copy of the OLG Guidelines here.  

The current limit for ordinary rates is specified in clause 126 of the Local Government (General) Regulation 2021 (NSW).

Where IPART has already approved a minimum amount of an ordinary rate that exceeds this limit, the council may continue to increase the minimum amount each year by the applicable rate peg or special variation percentage. However, if a council wants to increase the minimum amount of an ordinary rate by more than the applicable rate or special variation percentage it will need to make a further application to IPART.

The current limit for special rates is $2.

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Local Gov – Minimum rates – How does IPART assess applications to increase the minimum amount of a rate?

IPART assesses applications to increase the minimum amount of rates in accordance with the criteria in guidelines published by the Office of Local Government (OLG). The OLG criteria are:

  • the rationale for increasing minimum rates above the statutory amount
  • the impact on ratepayers, including the level of proposed minimum rates and the number and proportion of ratepayers that will be on minimum rates, by rating category or sub-category, and
  • the consultation the council has undertaken to obtain the community’s views on the proposal.

You can find a copy of the OLG Guidelines here.

Water Pricing
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Water - What retail prices does IPART set?

In Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Illawarra, the Hunter, Central Coast and Broken Hill we set the maximum retail prices for water and sewerage services charged by:

We also set the maximum prices for stormwater drainage, trade waste, recycled water, and a range of ancillary and miscellaneous services provided by these water utilities.

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Water - What bulk water prices does IPART set?

We set maximum prices for the following bulk water suppliers:

We also set maximum prices for the Water Administration Ministerial Corporation’s (WAMC’s) water management services.

WaterNSW is the main supplier of bulk water in the Sydney region. It manages and protects Sydney’s drinking water catchments and catchment infrastructure, and supplies bulk water to Sydney Water.

WaterNSW also operates dams and weirs to deliver bulk water to irrigators and other licence holders on regulated rivers across NSW.

The desalination plant is a key element in greater Sydney’s water security plan. The desalination plant provides a source of non-rainfall dependent drinking water that can be relied upon when Sydney’s available water storage levels fall below a certain threshold.

WAMC’s water management services are provided to those who hold entitlements to take water from regulated rivers, unregulated rivers and groundwater sources across NSW.

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Water - Does IPART set all water prices in NSW?

No. IPART does not set water and sewerage prices for regional areas where services are provided by local water utilities or local government.

For more information on local water utilities contact DPI Water.

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Water - Why is my sewerage (wastewater) bill fixed?

There is a difference between the structure of residential charges for water (service and usage charge) and wastewater (service charge only). There are two main reasons for this difference:

Firstly, the costs of providing wastewater services are predominantly fixed costs. That is, the cost of providing wastewater services remain mostly fixed regardless of how much wastewater is discharged into the network. A major reason for this is that, unlike drinking water networks, wastewater networks are typically built above the capacity required to deal with wastewater discharges alone. This is a design requirement to allow wastewater systems to minimise the frequency and scale of wastewater overflows during heavy rainfall.

Secondly, while there is a small portion of wastewater costs that are variable, wastewater metering costs are very high compared to water metering costs. Rolling out wastewater metering to facilitate usage charges would involve significant costs that would likely outweigh any benefits.

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Water - I want a rebate for my water bill. Should I contact IPART?

No. Rebates are set by water utilities. Here is more information about rebates and assistance.

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Water - What if I don’t think I’ve been billed correctly?

For any complaints about your water service or pricing, your supplier’s contact details will be on your bill. Contact them first so they are aware of the problem and have an opportunity to resolve it. If they cannot resolve it immediately, they should deal with your complaint using their complaints procedure. You can ask for a copy of this procedure.

If you have a problem or dispute with your utility about billing or another matter, you can contact EWON for help in resolving your dispute. However, EWON has no role or authority in setting prices. This means it is not able to investigate complaints about price increases. But it can review whether the relevant charges and prices have been correctly applied to your account.

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Water - How can I reduce my water bill?

Here is information about ways to save money on your water bill.

WICA
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What is WICA?

The Water Industry Competition Act 2006 (NSW) (WICA) seeks to harness the innovation and investment potential of the private sector in the water and wastewater industries. At the same time, the Act establishes a licensing regime for private sector entrants to ensure the continued protection of public health, consumers and the environment. Among other things, WICA sets out:

  • when a licence is required

  • the procedure for applying for a licence how applications for licences are determined

  • how licensees' compliance with their licences is monitored and enforced .

WICA establishes mechanisms to resolve disputes between private sector bodies and their customers, and to protect customers in the event of the failure of a new market entrant.

WICA also establishes:

  • an access regime under which an applicant may seek access to existing water industry infrastructure (see WICA Access regime for further details)

  • IPART as the arbitrator of disputes over access to infrastructure services and sewer mining disputes.

WICA is supported by the Water Industry Competition (General) Regulation 2008 (NSW) and theWater Industry Competition (Access to Infrastructure Services) Regulation 2007 (NSW).

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Who needs a licence under WICA?

A person must obtain a licence under WICA to:

  • construct, maintain or operate any water industry infrastructure a network operator’s licence, or
  • supply potable or non-potable water or provide sewerage services by means of any water industry infrastructure a retail supplier’s licence, unless an exemption applies.

If you intend to undertake both types of activities, you must obtain a network operator’s licence and retail supplier’s licence.

An application for a licence may only be made by or on behalf of a corporation. Either the owner or operator of the relevant water industry infrastructure can apply.

An application for a licence must be made to IPART. IPART will assess the application and then recommend to the Minister whether the licence should be granted and the licence conditions that should apply.

To be granted a licence, an applicant must satisfy the Minister that it has, among other things, the technical, organisational and financial capacity to carry out the activities that would be authorised by the licence (if granted). One potential consequence of this requirement is that non-technical applicants may have difficulty in passing the technical capacity assessment unless they have engaged, and nominated in the application forms, suitably qualified third parties.

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What is "water industry infrastructure"?

Water industry infrastructure refers to “water infrastructure” or “sewerage infrastructure.”

“Water infrastructure” means any infrastructure that is, or is to be, used for the production, treatment, filtration, storage, conveyance or reticulation of water, but does not include any pipe, fitting or apparatus that is situated:

  • downstream of a customer’s connection point to a water main, or
  • upstream of a customer’s connection point to a stormwater drain.

"Sewerage infrastructure" means any infrastructure that is, or is to be, used for the treatment, storage, conveyance or reticulation of sewage, including any outfall pipe or other work that stores or conveys water leaving the infrastructure, but does not include any pipe, fitting or apparatus that is situated upstream of a customer’s connection point to a sewer main.

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Who is exempt from WICA's licensing requirements?

You should not rely on the following as a substitute for legal advice about whether you are exempt from WICA’s licensing requirements.

If you wish to determine if you are exempt from the licensing requirements of WICA, you should seek your own legal advice on whether you meet the exemption requirements in WICA or in Schedule 3 of the Water Industry Competition (General) Regulation 2008 (NSW). Schedule 3 provides a complete list of water industry infrastructure that is exempt from the licensing requirements.

Some examples of exemptions include where the water industry infrastructure:

  • is constructed, maintained or operated by a public water utility in its area of operations (public water utilities are defined as State Water Corporation, Sydney Catchment Authority, Sydney Water Corporation, Hunter Water Corporation, a water supply authority within the meaning of theWater Management Act 2000, or a council or county council exercising water or sewerage functions)
  • is constructed, maintained or operated for or on behalf of a licensed network operator or a public water utility (for example, a private filtration plant operated on behalf of Sydney Water Corporation)
  • comprises water management works to which Chapters 4, 5 or 6 of the Water Management Act 2000 apply (for example, water management works installed by an irrigation corporation)
  • is a water supply work within the meaning of the Water Management Act 2000 that is used solely for the purpose of taking water pursuant to an entitlement under various provisions in Chapter 3 of that Act
  • is a work to which Part 2 of the Water Act 1912 applies, or is constructed under a licence issued under Part 5, Division 3 of that Act, that is used solely for the purpose of taking water pursuant to an entitlement created by various licences issued under Part 2 or Part 5, Division 3 of that Act (for example, a farm dam or irrigation channel taking water from a river)
  • is used solely for stormwater drainage purposes.

You are not required to apply for exemption.

Please note that in addition to exemptions from the licensing requirements of WICA, there are transitional arrangements in place that may delay the need to obtain a licence.

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What transitional arrangements are in place?

You should not rely on the following as a substitute for legal advice about whether the transitional arrangements in WICA apply to you.

In addition to exemptions from WICA’s licensing requirements, there are transitional arrangements in place that may delay the need to obtain a licence.

For example, under the transitional arrangements, WICA’s licensing requirements do not apply to water or sewerage infrastructure that is wholly situated on premises owned by the one person and owned or controlled by the person owning the premises.

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What is a network operator's licence?

Subject to the conditions of its licence and relevant legislation, a licensed network operator may construct, maintain or operate any water industry infrastructure.

Part 6 of WICA outlines the powers and duties of a licensed network operator in relation to its water industry infrastructure. WICA licensees have powers and responsibilities comparable to those of a public water utility. For example, a licensed network operator may carry out work connected with the erection and placement of water industry infrastructure in or under public roads and public reserves (on certain conditions), and may require landowners to remove trees, structures and other things on their land that may be damaging the licensee’s infrastructure.

WICA and the Water Industry Competition (General) Regulation 2008 set out prescribed licence conditions for licensed network operators. These conditions relate to provision of information, commercial operation of water industry infrastructure, ensuring a safe and reliable network, environmental protection, codes of conduct, and infrastructure operating, water quality, and sewage management plans. Certain licensed network operators must also belong to an approved ombudsman scheme to deal with disputes and complaints involving entitled persons. The Minister may also include other conditions in a network operator’s licence.

It is important to note that:

  • where required by WICA, a person must obtain a network operator’s licence BEFORE commencing CONSTRUCTION of water industry infrastructure
  • a licensed network operator must also obtain written approval from the Minister BEFORE bringing any new water or sewerage infrastructure into COMMERCIAL OPERATION.
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What is a retail supplier's licence?

Subject to the conditions of its licence and relevant legislation, a licensed retail supplier may supply potable or non-potable water or provide sewerage services by means of any water industry infrastructure.

WICA and the Water Industry Competition (General) Regulation 2008 set out prescribed licence conditions for licensed retail suppliers. Examples include requirements to:

  • belong to an approved ombudsman scheme to deal with disputes and complaints involving small retail customers
  • implement any applicable government policy with respect to social programs for the supply of water and provision of sewerage services, such as those to ensure that those services are available to people in need, including those suffering financial hardship and those living in remove areas
  • comply with the codes of conduct established pursuant to the Regulation.
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What are the penalties for contravening the legislation (eg,not obtaining a licence when one is required) or a licence condition?

When a licensee contravenes WICA or the regulations (eg, by not obtaining a licence when required to do so) or a condition of its licence, the Minister or IPART may take a range of enforcement actions. Such actions could include (among other things):

  • imposing a monetary penalty not exceeding $500,000 for the first day of the contravention, and $20,000 for each subsequent day (not exceeding 25 days)
  • requiring a licensee to take such action as the Minister or IPART considers appropriate, such as notifying customers of specified information or taking specified action to rectify the contravention
  • cancelling or suspending the licence
  • declaring that the licensee is a disqualified corporation, or its directors disqualified individuals, for the purposes of WICA.

Some of these enforcement actions can only be taken by IPART if the Minister concurs.

See also IPART’s Compliance and Enforcement Policy which outlines our risk based approach to compliance and enforcement.

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What are the fees and costs associated with obtaining and holding a licence?

Fees and costs associated with obtaining and holding a licence include:

Application fees

The application fee for a network operator’s licence is $2,500.

The application fee for a retail supplier’s licence is $2,500.

If you are applying for both a network operator’s licence and a retail supplier’s licence, the fee is $5,000.

Annual licence fees

For licensed retail suppliers, annual licence fees vary according to average daily throughput. Fees range from $1,000 for “small” scale schemes to $6,000 for “large” scale schemes.

For licensed network operators, fees vary according to the volumetric capacity of the supply of the infrastructure to which their licences relates. Fees range from $2,000 for “small” scale schemes to $9,000 for “large scale” schemes.

Audit costs

Audit costs vary, but usually represent the bulk of compliance costs for licensees.

Please note that audits are required to determine:

  • the adequacy of your licence plans
  • whether the infrastructure is capable of operating safely and in accordance with your licence plans before it is brought into commercial operation (for licensed network operators only) and
  • ongoing compliance (once licensed).

We understand that a compliance audit of a complex scheme can cost approximately $30,000.

Insurance report costs

Applicants for new schemes and licensees of existing schemes must provide a report from an insurance broker who holds an Australian financial services licence under Part 7.6 of theCorporations Act 2001 (Cth) that authorises the broker to provide financial product advice for, and deal in, contracts of insurance within the meaning of Chapter 7 of that Act. This report is required at the time of application (for new schemes) or within 6 months of being licensed (for existing schemes). The cost of obtaining such a report will vary according to the circumstances, but we understand it may cost approximately $10,000 - $15,000 to obtain.

Ombudsman scheme membership fees

A licensed retail supplier supplying water or providing sewerage services to small retail customers is required to join an approved ombudsman scheme. This requirement also applies to certain licensed network operators.

Licensees should contact the Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW (opens in a new window) (EWON) to determine what membership and usage fees apply.

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How long does it take for IPART to process a licence application? What are common causes for delay?

IPART is committed to undertaking a thorough, efficient and transparent assessment of WICA licence applications.

To enable this we have defined a target timeline, or 'clock', of 34 weeks for our assessment.

It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure its application form is complete and that it has provided all required information (including supporting documentation) to enable IPART to process the application.

IPART will notify the applicant if IPART assesses that an application is incomplete, and will not process the application any further until the applicant provides any required outstanding information (ie, the IPART 'clock' will be off). The 'clock' restarts when an amended application has been approved by IPART as a 'complete' application.

Notionally, our 'clock' will stop whenever the licence applicant has been requested to provide additional information. Requests for additional information (RFIs) will be issued as required, with the number of RFI's issued directly related to the quality of the information supplied, the nature of the scheme, submissions from stakeholders, and the input of external stakeholders.

If an applicant does not submit a completed application form or supporting documentation, or does not promptly address IPART’s subsequent RFI's, the total processing time can increase.

Common causes of delay in processing applications include applicants providing:

  • insufficient information in the public version of the application.
  • insufficient information about the relevant company structure and relevant contractual arrangements.
  • inconsistent information in the application form.

Applicants should also note that the Minister, after receiving IPART’s recommendation, makes the decision about whether to grant a licence or refuse the application. IPART's target timeline applies only to the time for a recommendation to be made by IPART, and forwarded to the Minister.

See our WICA assessment timeline for more details.

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I have read these FAQs and am ready to apply for a WICA licence. What do I do next?

Please download the application form and read the instructions contained within.

If you are considering applying for a WICA licence, we strongly suggest you contact the Water Licensing Team at IPART on 9290 8412 or email Christine_Allen@ipart.nsw.gov.au to arrange a time to meet with us before you apply.

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