Leading caravan park operator Discovery Parks has paid $40,000 in penalties for allegedly selling energy unlawfully at two of its facilities.
The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) issued two infringement notices to Discovery Parks alleging that between 2015 and 2018 it sold electricity to customers at caravan parks in Casino and Byron Bay without holding either a retailer authorisation or appropriate retail exemptions, which is required under the law.
The AER issues retail exemptions to allow a party to sell energy without being an authorised retailer, and are required by businesses like Discovery Parks that sell energy as part of their broader activities.
They impose a range of conditions on the energy seller, providing their customers with protections such as assistance if they are experiencing payment difficulties and prescribing steps that must be taken prior to disconnection of supply.
During the period where Discovery Parks sold electricity without an exemption, customers at those sites may have missed out on these important protections.
Acting Chair Jim Cox said the AER works to ensure that all energy customers receive the safeguards provided by the National Energy Retail Law (Retail Law), regardless of whether they buy from an authorised retailer or an exempt seller.
“Our retail exemptions provide customers with important protections. These include requiring sellers to assist customers experiencing payment difficulties and to follow set processes before disconnecting a customer.
“These protections are fundamental and it is not acceptable that some customers may not be receiving them. The AER will continue to take action where businesses are not meeting these important obligations,” said Mr. Cox.
The AER can issue an infringement notice where it has reason to believe a business has contravened a civil penalty provision of the Retail Law. The payment of a penalty specified in an infringement notice is not an admission of contravention of the Retail Law.
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.