Utility breaches connection obligation

Western Power was told by the Economic Regulation Authority (ERA) of Western Australia it has breached one of its licence obligations for disconnecting power to three properties that were not listed with energy retailer Synergy and were not receiving power bills.

The non-bill paying properties included a vacant farm shed and two houses near Beverley.

The ERA records this as the most serious level of a ‘Type 1’ breach, the same level of seriousness as power being cut to life-support customers.

Western Power said that a breach was due to the properties not being listed with Synergy.

“The properties were drawing very low amounts of electricity, and were disconnected the day before the CHOGM public holiday,” a Western Power release stated.

No complaints were received by Western Power or Synergy in relation to the disconnection of these properties.

The ERA said it was “very disappointed” at the breach, which was the third in seven months, according to The West Australian newspaper.

ERA chairman Lyndon Rowe said he was concerned the disconnection had only been uncovered by an external audit and reported to the ERA on December 6, 2011, which suggested Western Power’s business systems still needed improvement despite the regulator highlighting the earlier breaches.

Since July 2011 Western Power has disconnected 15,500 similar properties in accordance with the code without incident. Western Power said it is achieving a 99.98 per cent compliance level in relation to disconnections.