Endeavour Energy and Ergon Energy have each been fined $20,000 for alleged breaches of the life support obligations under the National Energy Retail Rules.
In both incidents, customers unexpectedly lost electricity supply during planned works.
Under the Retail Law and Retail Rules (which apply in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania, Queensland, and South Australia) energy retailers and distributors have important obligations to customers who are registered as requiring life support.
These include the provision of emergency contact details; information on how to prepare for an unplanned interruption and a minimum of four business days’ written notice of a planned interruption.
The AER issued the infringement notices because it had reason to believe the life support customer at each premise was not given the required notice of a planned interruption to their electricity supply.
“Protecting customers requiring life support equipment is an ongoing priority for the AER,” AER Chair Paula Conboy said.
“Life support customers are particularly vulnerable. Any unexpected loss of supply can have potentially dangerous and even fatal consequences.
“The requirement to provide advanced notice of an interruption to their electricity supply is a critical protection as it gives customers time to make alternative arrangements.
She added that all life support customers should have plans in place for alternative electricity supply in the event of an unplanned interruption.
Paying the infringement notice penalties does not mean Endeavour and Ergon have admitted to the contraventions.
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.