The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has released the results of its latest compliance audit under the National Energy Retail Law (Retail Law).
AGL Energy Ltd (AGL) carried out an audit to assess compliance with its hardship, payment plan and disconnections obligations for the period 1 January 2020 to 30 April 2020.
Except for one instance of “partial compliance”, the audit found AGL complied in all material respects, with its hardship, payment plan and disconnection obligations, as described in the audit’s assessment criteria. AGL has rectified the partial compliance by updating its retail systems.
Retailers and distributors must establish and implement policies, systems and procedures to enable them to efficiently and effectively monitor their compliance with the requirements of the Retail Law and National Energy Retail Rules (Retail Rules).
The Retail Law allows the AER to require a retailer or distributor to carry out a compliance audit in respect of its compliance with the Retail Law, Retail Rules and Regulations, or to engage an auditor to conduct an audit on behalf of the AER, and recover the cost of that audit from the relevant retailer or distributor.
Compliance audits are one of many compliance monitoring tools used by the AER to ensure energy consumers are receiving the protections they are entitled to under the Retail Law and Retail Rules. You can read more about our approach to compliance and enforcement in the AER Compliance and Enforcement Policy.
Part 2 of the Retail Law and Parts 3 and 6 of the Retail Rules include obligations on retailers in relation to payment plans, hardship policies, debt recovery and disconnections. Ensuring customers in financial difficulties are offered sustainable and affordable payment plans and timely access to retailer hardship programs is one of the AER's 2020-21 compliance priorities.
The AER recognises that energy affordability is a key issue for Australian households, in particular people experiencing hardship, and will continue to monitor energy businesses compliance with hardship obligations.