Information for Urth Energy customers

On Wednesday 1 February 2017, Urth Energy Pty Ltd (Urth Energy) entered into administration and was suspended from the wholesale electricity market. This means Urth Energy can no longer supply its customers with electricity. 

The National Energy Retail Law contains protections for customers of failed energy retailers. If you are a customer of Urth Energy, you will not be disconnected.  Your electricity will continue to be supplied by another retailer without you having to do anything. The scheme that does this is called the ‘Retailer of Last Resort’ (RoLR) scheme. The Australian Energy Regulator is responsible for administering the RoLR scheme.

This page addresses the following topics:

The information on this page is for Urth Energy’s electricity customers in New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland.

About your new retailer

Who is my new retailer?

You will be transferred automatically to the retailer of last resort in your area.

Retailers of last resort in affected New South Wales, Queensland and South Australian distribution areas
State Distribution System New retailer
New South Wales Endeavour Energy Origin Energy
New South Wales Essential Energy Origin Energy
New South Wales Ausgrid Energy Australia
Queensland Energex Origin Energy
South Australia SA Power Networks AGL

An old electricity bill may tell you who your distributor is (this will not change).  If you need help to work out who your new retailer is, and you live in New South Wales, South Australia or Queensland, please call the AER on 1300 055 390. 

Do I need to contact my new retailer or will they contact me?

You can expect your new retailer to contact you, usually by mail, within about five weeks (early March). You don’t have to contact your new retailer yourself, but in some cases it is a good idea.  If you are a concession customer, pay by Centrepay or direct debit or you were previously on a payment plan or hardship program with Urth Energy, you should contact your new retailer as soon as possible so that you can continue similar arrangements. If you are a life support customer, you should contact your new retailer immediately. There is more information on these topics below.

If you have life support equipment, contact your new retailer immediately

You should contact your new retailer urgently to advise that you have life support equipment, even if you have previously advised Urth Energy. You will need to provide your new retailer with confirmation from a medical practitioner. The new retailer must then register you as having life support equipment at your premises and make sure that your distributor is aware of this.

Contact details for your new retailer

Contact details of your new retailer
Retailer Website Phone number
AGL www.agl.com.au Ph: 131 245 (residential customers)
AGL www.agl.com.au Ph: 133 835 (small business customers)
EnergyAustralia www.energyaustralia.com.au Ph: 133 466
Origin Energy www.originenergy.com.au Ph: 1800 010 058 (small customers (small business & residential))
Origin Energy www.originenergy.com.au Ph: 132 334 (large customers)

Billing and payment arrangements

Will I receive a final bill from Urth Energy?

You should receive a final bill from Urth Energy for any energy you used up until you were transferred to your new retailer. Your new retailer will bill you for any energy you use after you were transferred to them. The new retailer’s prices will apply from the date that you became their customer.

I was paying Urth Energy by direct debit. Will my direct debit automatically cease?

Urth Energy has an obligation under the Retail Law to take steps to cancel direct debit authorisations. You should contact your financial institution to confirm that the direct debit arrangement with Urth Energy has been cancelled. If you wish to pay your new retailer by direct debit, you will need to set up new direct debit arrangements with them.

I was paying Urth Energy by Centrepay deductions. Will my Centrepay deductions automatically cease?

Urth Energy has an obligation under the Retail Law to take steps to cancel Centrepay deductions. You should contact Centrelink to confirm that Centrepay payments to Urth Energy have been cancelled.  If you wish to pay your new retailer by Centrepay, you will need to set up new arrangements with Centrepay.

I was participating in Urth Energy’s hardship program.  Can I continue this arrangement?

We recommend that you contact your new retailer to advise that you were on a hardship program, and to talk to your new retailer about your eligibility for payment plans or other assistance. Your new retailer has an AER approved hardship policy in place to assist customers who are experiencing financial difficulty or who are otherwise having trouble paying their bill.

I was on a payment plan with Urth Energy. When Urth Energy sends the final bill, can I pay the outstanding amount in instalments?

Yes. Urth Energy must continue with the payment plan if it provides for the payment of arrears that you owed to Urth Energy before they failed.

Urth Energy required me to pay a security deposit when I signed up with them. Can I get it back?

Yes. Urth Energy or their insolvency official is required to refund any security deposit (including any interest accrued on that deposit) without any deduction other than in respect of energy consumed (but not paid for) before the date of the retailer’s failure.

I owe money to Urth Energy and was not on a payment plan.  Do I still need to pay my debt?

You will still need to pay Urth Energy for any energy that you consumed while they were your retailer.  If you are not able to pay off the debt in full, you may contact Urth Energy or their insolvency official and request a payment plan. However, Urth Energy or its insolvency official is not required to set up a payment plan with you.

I made advance payment amounts towards my energy bill to Urth Energy. What happens now?

Urth Energy is required to apply those amounts to the payment of your account, but only insofar as that payment is for energy consumed before you were transferred to your new retailer. Any remaining balance is required to be repaid to you.  However, if Urth Energy is in or goes into liquidation, you may only receive some or none of the money owed.

I was disputing my last bill with Urth Energy and they said they would look at it. What will happen now?

You should still contact Urth Energy as they or their administrator should have processes for handling unresolved customer complaints. If you have contacted them and you are dissatisfied with the outcome, you should contact the energy ombudsman in your state or territory.

Contact details for energy ombudsmen
State Ombudsman Website Phone number
Queensland Energy & Water Ombudsman Queensland www.ewoq.com.au Ph: 1800 662 837
New South Wales Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW www.ewon.com.au Ph: 1800 246 545
South Australia Energy & Water Ombudsman South Australia www.ewosa.com.au Ph: 1800 665 565

I have paid Urth Energy in whole or part for a service order with my distributor (e.g. special meter read). What happens now?

You do not have to pay for the service order again. Your new retailer may place the order with the relevant distributor or, if the order has been placed by Urth Energy, your new retailer will take steps to ensure its completion. You should speak directly to your new retailer regarding the status of your service order.

I had credit on my prepayment meter / card-operated meter when the RoLR event occurred. Is Urth Energy required to refund the amount owing?

Yes. The value of any credit remaining in the prepayment meter / card-operated meter system account at the time you were transferred to your new retailer must be returned by Urth Energy to you without any deduction.

Your new supply arrangements (prices and contracts)

What price will my new retailer charge?

If you are a residential customer or a small business customer, your new retailer must charge you the standing offer tariff (subject to any RoLR cost recovery arrangements), which is the prices that a retailer offers under a standard retail contract. The standing offer tariff may be more than the price you were being charged under a market retail contract that you negotiated with Urth Energy.

In some states and territories the standing offer tariffs have been approved by an independent regulator or government. In regional Queensland, electricity standing offer tariffs are regulated. In New South Wales, South Australia and the Energex distribution area in South East Queensland, standing offer tariffs are set by retailers and can only be changed every six months.

For large customers, the price payable will be your new retailer’s default pricing or any competitive market offer they might make you.

Can I change to a different offer or a different retailer?

Your new retailer must automatically charge you the standing offer tariff (if you are a small customer), but when you become their customer, you can ask them about their market contracts, which may be cheaper than their standing offer.

You can also change to a different retailer.  Visit our energy price comparison website, Energy Made Easy, to compare offers from all of the retailers in your area. 

If you do nothing, after three months you will be transferred onto the retailer’s standard contract.

You can transfer anytime from your new retailer to another retailer of your choice and the transfer should happen within the same timeframe as any other transfer.

I had a solar feed-in tariff arrangement with Urth Energy.  Will I have a feed-in tariff arrangement with my new retailer?

Under some feed-in schemes, minimum feed-in tariff amounts are mandated.  Your new retailer will determine your eligibility for feed-in tariffs based on information they receive from your distributor.

For customers who are currently receiving 44 cents for the Queensland Solar Bonus Scheme feed-in tariff (noting you may also be receiving an amount in addition to this from your retailer), you will continue to receive the 44 cents provided ongoing eligibility requirements are met (https://www.dews.qld.gov.au/energy-water-home/electricity/solar-bonus-scheme/feed-in-tariffs).

I had a solar feed-in tariff arrangement with Urth Energy.  What happens to any credits or payments I am owed under the feed-in tariff arrangement I had with Urth Energy? 

If you had a feed-in tariff arrangement with Urth Energy, and they owed you credits or payments from the feed-in tariff arrangement before they failed, then Urth Energy is still required to apply those credits to your account or pay you the outstanding amount in accordance with the terms of the feed-in tariff arrangement.  However, if Urth Energy is in, or goes into voluntary administration, Urth Energy is in financial difficulty. If you were owed feed-in tariff credits by Urth Energy as at midnight 1 February 2017, you will be classified as an unsecured creditor. As a creditor, the administrator has obligations towards you but you are not guaranteed to receive all or any of the money owed to you. Please contact the administrator to request a Proof of Debt form which, when completed and returned to the administrator, allows you to notify the administrator of your claim and to vote at creditors’ meetings. For further information about the administration process, please refer to this webpage of the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC). ASIC’s Information Sheet 74, which may be accessed here, also provides more detailed information for creditors.

 

If you were switching when Urth Energy failed

I was in the process of transferring from Urth Energy to a different retailer at the time Urth Energy failed.  Who will I be transferred to? 

Provided that your chosen new retailer had commenced the transfer process within the market systems before Urth Energy failed, your transfer to your chosen new retailer will be fast-tracked so that you do not transfer to a RoLR.  If your chosen new retailer had not commenced the transfer process within the market systems before Urth Energy failed, you will be transferred to a RoLR, and your chosen retailer will need to arrange for you to transfer to them.

I was in the process of switching to Urth Energy at the time they failed.  Who will I be transferred to?

If you were in the process of transferring to Urth Energy, this transfer will not be completed.  You will remain a customer of the retailer you were in the process of transferring away from, on your current contract.  Your retailer will send you a letter to confirm this.

Information on large and small customers

How do I know if I am a “small” customer?

If you are a residential customer, you will be a small customer. Many small businesses will also be small customers, however the threshold (based on energy consumption) for small customers varies across jurisdictions for electricity customers.  In New South Wales and Queensland, small customers are customers consuming less than 100MWh per annum of electricity. In South Australia, small customers are customers consuming less than 160MWh per annum of electricity. 

If you’re not certain whether you’re a “small” customer or a “large” customer, you should check with your new retailer.

I am a large customer - consuming more than 100MWh per annum of electricity (NSW/QLD) / more than 160MWh per annum of electricity (SA) – what RoLR arrangements have been made for me?

Unless you are a large electricity customer that had already advised the Australian Energy Market Operator of your nominated RoLR before Urth Energy failed, a RoLR has been appointed for you. 

Your new retailer (a RoLR) has published the terms and conditions of your energy supply on its website.  These terms and conditions must be fair and reasonable.  You should check as soon as possible what terms and conditions apply to your energy supply.  If you would like assistance to work out who your new retailer is, please call the AER on 1300 055 390.

Your new retailer should contact you, usually by mail, within around five weeks of the date your energy retailer failed.  

You can transfer anytime from your new retailer to another retailer, or negotiate a retail contract with your new retailer.  If you do not terminate the supply arrangements with the RoLR, or if you do not enter into a retail contract with the RoLR, they may terminate the supply arrangements after a period of 6 months.