Court orders EnergyAustralia to take steps to comply with life support undertaking

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has obtained an interlocutory injunction from the Federal Court requiring EnergyAustralia to use best endeavours to comply with a binding undertaking given to the AER in August 2019 until further orders are made. The injunction was obtained in the AER’s ongoing enforcement proceedings against EnergyAustralia. 

The injunction was sought by the AER after alleged ongoing failures by EnergyAustralia to comply with an enforceable undertaking provided to the AER on 23 August 2019. The undertaking had been given to the AER by EnergyAustralia following self-reported breaches of the life support registration obligations.

The Court has ordered EnergyAustralia to use its best endeavours to complete the registration and notification process for every life support customer within the timeframes required by the undertaking, and to file evidence of the steps taken and proposed to be taken to comply.

AER Chair Clare Savage said obtaining this injunction demonstrates the AER’s determination to hold businesses to the commitments made in enforceable undertakings.

“If a business enters into an enforceable undertaking with the AER, they must continue to comply with the terms of the undertaking, or we will take them to court.

“This is the first time that the AER secured an injunction of this nature. We will not hesitate to act if businesses fail to comply with enforceable undertakings,” said Ms Savage.

Ms Savage said that businesses should expect to be held to account on life support matters.

“The AER takes the life support obligations on businesses very seriously. The obligations to register life support customers are critical to ensure continuity of energy supply and sufficient notice of any planned interruptions,” said Ms Savage.

“Ensuring that customers who require life support equipment at their premises receive the protections provided by the National Energy Retail Rules is an enforcement priority for the AER.”

The AER urges anyone requiring life support equipment to contact their energy retailer or distributor to be registered.

Notes to Editors

  • On 8 April 2020, the AER instituted proceedings in the Federal Court alleging that EnergyAustralia failed to comply with life support requirements and breached the enforceable undertaking given by EnergyAustralia.
  • The enforceable undertaking requires EnergyAustralia to:
    • register life support customers as soon as possible and, at the latest, within one business day of advice
    • review all calls from the previous day to identify any missed life support customers.
  • The interlocutory injunction was obtained in these proceedings, which have not yet been finally determined.
  • This matter will now proceed to final hearing at which time the AER will seek an order directing EnergyAustralia to comply with the terms of the Undertaking as well as declarations that EnergyAustralia contravened the life support obligations contained in the National Energy Retail Rules, orders for civil penalties and costs.

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.
Issued date: 
1 July 2020
AER reference: 
NR 26/20
AER Media 0466 409 921