Twenty Tasmanians reliant on life support equipment were not provided with adequate notification of an interruption to the power supply by TasNetworks, a situation the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) says must not be repeated.
TasNetworks has paid three infringement notices – totaling $60,000 – and signed a court enforceable undertaking to address deficiencies in the way it manages its planned interruptions, particularly those affecting life support customers.
AER Chair Clare Savage said that robust enforcement ensuring compliance with the law is vital in building consumer trust that businesses are doing the right thing.
“People who rely on life support equipment should expect their distributor will provide them with the legally required notice to planned interruptions to their supply.
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“I am encouraged that TasNetworks has agreed to provide a comprehensive court enforceable undertaking outlining the steps they’ll take to ensure this doesn’t happen again,” Ms Savage said.
The AER found that between August 2018 and November 2018 TasNetworks conducted three planned interruptions to supply without providing affected life support customers with four business days’ written notification.
The first planned interruption affected one life support customer, the second 18 and the third another customer.
The AER has taken action against TasNetworks because of concerns that TasNetworks’ systems and processes are not sufficient to ensure TasNetworks’ continued compliance with its life support distributor planned interruption obligations.
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The court enforceable undertaking requires TasNetworks to:
- engage an independent expert to complete a post-implementation review of systems and processes it has implemented in response to a previous audit of its life support processes;
- implement a project to verify the low voltage network connectivity of each of its existing life support customers; and
- implement a system upgrade that will assist in identifying areas that will be impacted by planned interruptions.
The AER is committed to protecting vulnerable customers as part of its robust compliance and enforcement strategy.
“The AER takes life support matters very seriously. The protections in place for vulnerable customers such as these are the law and we will enforce the law when it is breached. Every other business dealing with life support customers should consider themselves on notice,” Ms Savage said.