Who needs to join EWOQ

EWOQ members are known as scheme participants. Below is an outline of the two types of EWOQ scheme participants:

Energy and water providers

Under the Energy and Water Ombudsman Act 2006, all authorised energy suppliers in Queensland, and water distributor-retailers in South East Queensland, must become members of the EWOQ scheme if they supply electricity, gas or water to small customers.

Small customers are:

  • all residential customers
  • small businesses who use less than:
    • 160 megawatt hours of electricity per year
    • 1 terajoule of gas per year
    • 100 kilolitres of water per year (South East Queensland only).

Local councils supply water to customers outside South East Queensland and are not currently within EWOQ’s jurisdiction.

Energy and water distributors and retailers must apply to join once they’re eligible:

  • energy distributors—as soon as they receive a distribution licence in Queensland
  • energy retailers—within 10 business days starting to sell energy to a Queensland residential or small business customer.

See section 64 of the Act for details on when various energy and water entities become scheme participants.

Penalties apply for not applying for membership in the required time frame.

What does it cost?

EWOQ is fully funded by scheme participants through participation fees and user-pays fees.

Scheme participants pay an annual participation fee in July (or part-fee if they become a scheme participant during the financial year). They also pay user-pays fees to cover the costs of resolving complaints we receive about them. These are calculated according to section 69 of the Act.

We publish these fees in our annual budget guidelines (PDF, 191.57 KB).

If a scheme participant believes the number of cases they're being billed for is incorrect, they can follow the invoiced cases disputed by a scheme participant procedure (PDF, 211.19 KB).

Under the Act, the Ombudsman may impose a supplementary fee if, due to unforeseen expenditure or a revised budget, the total fees won’t cover all the Ombudsman’s functions.

Exempt sellers

Under the Energy and Water Ombudsman Regulation 2022. residential electricity exempt sellers must also join EWOQ.

This applies to embedded network owners and operators with a class D2, D6, R2, R3, R4, ND2, ND6, NR2, NR3, NR4 or individual exemption as described in the Australian Energy Regulator's (Retail) Exempt Selling Guideline and Network Service Provider Registration Exemption Guideline.

Exempt seller with 2,000 or fewer customers

If you’re an exempt seller with 2,000 or fewer customers, you’re automatically deemed an EWOQ scheme participant.

Please apply to join so we can support you with updates and resources.

You will not pay an annual membership fee.

Exempt seller with more than 2,000 customers

If you’re an exempt seller with more than 2,000 customers, you’re required to apply to join EWOQ and pay a $5,000 annual membership fee.

Authorised retailers who on-supply electricity will pay $5,000 per year for the first authorisation and $10,000 per year for more than one authorisation.

I’m a body corporate

If your body corporate is legally named as the exempt seller, it must join EWOQ, even if you have a billing agent, strata manager or embedded network manager acting on your behalf.

However, your membership can be managed by your billing agent, embedded network manager or strata manager. This includes applying for membership and managing complaints on your behalf.

To do this, you’ll need to send us a completed Exempt Seller Authority to Act form signed by both the body corporate and the agent.

I’m a billing agent

If you manage an embedded network on behalf of an exempt seller you are not required to join EWOQ. However, you can act on their behalf, including applying for membership and managing complaints.

To do this, you’ll need to send us a completed Exempt Seller Authority to Act form signed by both the exempt seller and yourself.

What does it cost?

When an embedded network customer contacts us about a complaint, exempt sellers won’t be charged case management fees at this time.

Find out more about embedded networks.

What are the benefits?

As a scheme participant, your customers have clear consumer protection and access to a free, fair and independent dispute resolution service for unresolved complaints.

Promoting the scheme

Scheme participants must include EWOQ’s contact details on final disconnection notices or restriction notices and publish contact details on their website.

Apply to become a member

Apply to join EWOQ or if you have further questions, contact us on 1800 662 837 or through our scheme membership enquiry form.