Customers should not be forced to put up with a faulty meter because their energy retailers’ systems and processes are inadequate.
The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) today announced that three businesses - Dodo Power and Gas, Origin Energy and EnergyAustralia - have paid infringement notices totalling $140,000 for breaches of the National Electricity Rules regarding metering services.
The businesses allegedly failed to promptly appoint someone to fix customer’s faulty meters. In some cases, customers waited for over 200 days for the businesses to take action.
This meant some bills may have been estimated rather than based on customer’s actual consumption.
AER Chair Clare Savage said that robust enforcement ensuring compliance with the law is vital in building consumer trust that companies are doing the right thing.
“If there is a fault with a service then it needs to be promptly dealt with by the retailer. If that fault is with your electricity meter, and you’re sent estimated bills as a result, it simply isn’t good enough.
“Our investigation has shown that these businesses did not have adequate systems in place to deal with an issue they should have known could have a serious impact on consumers. Estimated bills reduce consumer confidence in their energy provider and in turn the wider retail energy market,” said Ms Savage.
The penalties paid by each of the businesses are:
- Dodo Power and Gas (One infringement notice - $20,000)
- Origin Energy (Two infringement notices - $40,000)
- EnergyAustralia (Four infringement notices - $80,000)
Retailers assumed responsibility for metering services in December 2017 following rule changes relating to the introduction of metering contestability.
The new rules are designed to encourage the deployment of smart meters and allow customers to access innovative energy services.
“Retailers should consider themselves on notice when it comes to metering issues. We are determined that consumers should not be disadvantaged because of a metering fault.
“The longer customers have to wait for their smart meters because of delays by businesses, the longer customers are denied the benefits of this technology. Using the information smart meters provide, people can reduce their usage which not only helps their hip pocket, but also provides benefits across the system,” said Ms Savage.
About the AER
The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) works to make all Australian energy consumers better off, now and in the future.
- We regulate electricity networks and covered gas pipelines, in all jurisdictions except Western Australia. We set the amount of revenue that network businesses can recover from customers for using these networks.
- We enforce the laws for the National Electricity Market and spot gas markets in southern and eastern Australia. We monitor and report on the conduct of energy businesses and the effectiveness of competition.
- We protect the interests of household and small business consumers by enforcing the Retail Law. Our retail energy market functions cover New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania, the ACT and Queensland.
- We drive effective competition where it is feasible and provide effective regulation where it is not. We equip consumers to participate effectively, including through our Energy Made Easy website, and protect those who are unable to safeguard their own interests. We use our expertise to inform debate about Australia’s energy future.