Ausgrid fined $100K for breaching life support obligations

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Ausgrid has paid $100,000 in penalties issued by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) for alleged breaches of its life support obligations.

The AER took enforcement action customers known to require life support equipment unexpectedly lost electricity supply in New South Wales.

Ausgrid was issued five alleged breaches of the life support protections under the National Energy Retail Rules (Retail Rules) between May 2016 and February 2017.

“Protecting customers requiring life support equipment is an ongoing priority for the AER,” AER chair Paula Conboy said.

“It is imperative customers reliant on life support equipment receive advanced notice of any planned interruption to their energy supply, so they can make alternative plans.

“This reduces any risk of harm occurring or more serious consequences for those customers.

“Businesses must have effective systems and processes in place to manage these critical life support compliance obligations.

“Our compliance and enforcement work is important to ensuring all customers are protected.”

The AER has accepted a court enforceable undertaking from Ausgrid to review its compliance systems and processes.

“Ausgrid recognises the need to do better and has been working closely with the AER to improve the way we notify our customers of planned interruptions to the power supply and the ways that field work is completed,” the company said in a statement.

“We are in the process of reviewing and improving our network data to help ensure greater clarity of the status of the network at the low voltage level.

“This is a detailed process which will take some time but will pinpoint exactly how individual customers are connected to the network and what parts of the network supply their home or business.

“Processes for planned outages have also been amended and improved to ensure customers do not lose supply unexpectedly.”

Since 2013, NSW distributors have been obliged to notify all customers in writing of a planned interruption to their electricity supply at least four business days in advance.

Failure to meet this requirement for life support customers is a breach under the National Energy Customer Framework (NECF).