New South Wales electricity distribution business Endeavour Energy has provided the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) with an administrative undertaking and paid a penalty of $20 000, following the issue of an infringement notice by the AER in relation to an incident where a customer known to require life support equipment unexpectedly lost supply.
As part of the three year undertaking accepted by the AER, Endeavour Energy will roll-out enhanced internal procedures and conduct targeted staff training to ensure it meets its obligations under the National Energy Retail Rules to life support customers. Endeavour Energy will report regularly to the AER on the implementation of these measures.
“The AER’s primary objective in taking enforcement action is to prevent the conduct from reoccurring. Undertakings provide a tailored solution to address process deficiencies that may result in non-compliance with the law. The AER welcomes the changes which Endeavor Energy has undertaken to implement to improve its processes and ensure life support customers are protected,” AER Chair Ms Paula Conboy said.
“The AER will continue to monitor and enforce compliance with the particular provisions of the Retail Rules that protect customers requiring life support equipment. It is critical that distributors have systems in place to accurately identify the location of these customers and provide advance notice of any planned interruptions to energy supply,” Ms Conboy said.
The payment of a penalty specified in an infringement notice is not an admission of a contravention of the National Energy Retail Rules. The AER can issue an infringement notice where it has reason to believe a business has contravened a civil penalty provision of the Retail Rules.
Endeavour Energy is an electricity distribution business that supplies customers in New South Wales. The Retail Law and Rules set out key protections and obligations for energy customers and the retail and distribution businesses they buy their energy from. The AER monitors and enforces compliance with the Retail Law and the Rules.
Under the Retail Law and Rules, life support customers in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania, South Australia and Queensland have a range of protections.
The Rules provides protections for customers registered as requiring any of the following life support equipment:
- an oxygen concentrator;
- an intermittent peritoneal dialysis machine;
- a kidney dialysis machine;
- a chronic positive airways pressure respirator;
- crigler najjar syndrome phototherapy equipment;
- a ventilator for life support;
- in relation to a particular customer - any other equipment that a registered medical practitioner certifies is required for a person residing at the customer’s premises for life support.
Premises registered with life support equipment are subject to a range of protections under the Retail Law and Rules, including strict controls on de-energising life support customers, requirements that distributors provide notice of planned interruptions to energy supply and information to assist customers to prepare a plan of action in case of an unplanned interruption.
Customers who are reliant on life support equipment should contact their retailer and distributor. To be eligible for these protections, customers must provide their energy retailer or distributor with confirmation from a registered medical practitioner that a person residing at the customer’s premises requires medical life equipment.