The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has announced that three businesses: Dodo Power and Gas, Origin Energy and EnergyAustralia, have paid infringement notices totalling $140,000 for breaches of the National Electricity Rules regarding metering services.
The businesses allegedly failed to promptly appoint someone to fix customers’ faulty meters. In some cases, customers waited for over 200 days for the businesses to take action.
This meant some bills may have been estimated rather than based on customer’s actual consumption.
AER chair Clare Savage said that robust enforcement ensuring compliance with the law is vital in building consumer trust that companies are doing the right thing.
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“If there is a fault with a service then it needs to be promptly dealt with by the retailer,” Ms Savage said.
“If that fault is with your electricity meter, and you’re sent estimated bills as a result, it simply isn’t good enough.
“Our investigation has shown that these businesses did not have adequate systems in place to deal with an issue they should have known could have a serious impact on consumers. Estimated bills reduce consumer confidence in their energy provider and in turn the wider retail energy market,” Ms Savage said.
The penalties paid by each of the businesses are:
- Dodo Power and Gas (One infringement notice: $20,000)
- Origin Energy (Two infringement notices: $40,000)
- EnergyAustralia (Four infringement notices: $80,000)
Retailers assumed responsibility for metering services in December 2017 following rule changes relating to the introduction of metering contestability.
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The new rules are designed to encourage the deployment of smart meters and allow customers to access innovative energy services.
“Retailers should consider themselves on notice when it comes to metering issues,” Ms Savage said.
“We are determined that consumers should not be disadvantaged because of a metering fault.
“The longer customers have to wait for their smart meters because of delays by businesses, the longer customers are denied the benefits of this technology. “Using the information smart meters provide, people can reduce their usage which not only helps their hip pocket, but also provides benefits across the system.”