Evoenergy (previously ActewAGL Distribution) has paid penalties of $20,000 after the AER alleged three life support customers did not receive the required four business days’ notice, in writing, of a planned interruption to their electricity supply.
AER chair Paula Conboy said that protecting customers who require life support equipment is an ongoing priority for the AER.
“Customers relying on life support equipment are particularly vulnerable and any unexpected loss of supply can have dangerous, and even fatal, consequences.
“It is imperative that these customers receive advanced notice of any planned interruption to their energy supply so they can make alternative plans,” said Ms Conboy.
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.
The National Energy Retail Law and Retail Rules (which apply in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania) set out key protections for energy customers requiring life support equipment and the obligations on retail and distribution businesses they buy their energy from.
The Retail Rules require that when a premises is registered as having life support equipment, customers are required to be given:
- general advice that there may be a planned or unplanned interruption to the supply,
- information to assist them prepare a plan of action in the case of an unplanned interruption,
- an emergency telephone number for the distributor at no more than the cost of a local call, and
- at least four business days written notice of any planned interruption.
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 life support equipment.
Evoenergy is an electricity and gas distribution business based in the Australian Capital Territory that supplies customers in the ACT and New South Wales.
In August 2017, Evoenergy paid $20,000 in penalties following the issue of an infringement notice by the AER in relation to another incident where a customer known to require life support equipment unexpectedly lost electricity supply.