Energy businesses that fail to maintain an accurate register of life support customers will be held to account, to ensure customers receive the level of energy service to which they are entitled.
Momentum Energy has paid penalties of $100,000 after being issued with five infringement notices by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER). The penalties were in relation to alleged failures to comply with the requirement under the National Energy Retail Rules to keep its life support register up to date.
AER Chair Clare Savage said this exposed vulnerable life support customers to the risk of disconnection.
"Customers using life support equipment are particularly vulnerable and failure to register these customers can have dangerous and even fatal consequences because they are not protected from being disconnected,” Ms Savage said.
"The AER alleges that, between December 2017 and November 2018, Momentum Energy removed customers requiring life support equipment from its life support register. These customers were left unregistered for up to 459 days and did not receive the protection that retailer registration provides during this time.”
The National Energy Retail Rules require energy retailers and distributors to keep a register of all customers who use life support equipment to protect them from disconnection. This register must be kept up to date and customers should only be removed from the register where life support equipment is no longer required.
The alleged breaches occurred when the affected life support customers were switched from one Momentum Energy plan to another. As a result of system errors, the customers were removed from Momentum Energy’s life support register resulting in a risk that these vulnerable customers could have been disconnected.
"We are pleased that since these alleged failures, Momentum Energy has enhanced its life support procedures and controls, including hiring additional staff. We will continue to monitor businesses compliance with the life support obligations," Ms Savage said.
The AER encourages anyone requiring life support equipment to contact their energy retailer or distributor and make sure they are registered.
For more information about life support protections, read the AER Life support registration guide.