In 2017, IPART established an approach to regulating the prices Sydney Water and Hunter Water charge for wholesale water and wastewater services.
Wholesale customers purchase these services and on-sell them to their end-use customers, such as households and businesses. As on-sellers, these businesses compete with Sydney Water and Hunter Water for end-use customers. Many wholesale customers also supply recycled water. Wholesale customers are licensed under the Water Industry Competition Act 2006 (WICA).
Our regulatory framework for wholesale prices comprises two main components:
- Wholesale customers can enter into an ‘unregulated pricing agreement’ with Sydney or Hunter Water.
- If either party cannot reach agreement on an unregulated pricing agreement, they can ask IPART to set a price through a scheme-specific price review, which IPART would complete in four months.
We will consider the broader benefits of recycled water plants in our scheme-specific reviews, and reflect these in wholesale prices. Under our framework, the larger the cost saving to Sydney Water or Hunter Water (and their end-use customers) from a wholesale customer’s recycled water plant, the lower the wholesale price (all else being equal). Further information on scheme-specific reviews is available here.
We also set ‘system-wide’ wholesale prices to apply in a very limited range of circumstances from 1 January 2018. Notably, these prices do not apply to wholesale customers that operate a recycled water plant.