The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has released its latest compliance and enforcement update, indicating that energy companies have paid $4.38 million in penalties over the last six months.
This action was taken in response to a range of breaches including the wrongful disconnection of customers, non-compliance with life support protections for vulnerable customers and non-compliance with reporting obligations under the national energy laws.
Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor, said that while it is pleasing that the energy companies are being kept honest, some continue to do the wrong thing and the Federal Government will crack down on bad behaviour in the energy sector.
“Australians can be assured the Morrison Government is putting them first, and ensuring energy companies do too,” Mr Taylor said.
“As an essential service, it is vital that misconduct in the energy sector is held properly to account.
“This is why the Government has championed the introduction of new, tougher penalties in the national energy laws, implemented from 29 January 2021.
“These new penalties will ensure the Australian Energy Regulator has even better tools to crack down on improper and illegal behaviour.
“Like the Government’s Big Stick legislation, this is about holding the energy companies to account and getting a better, fairer deal on energy for Australians.”
The Federal Government said it has taken strong action to ensure energy companies are putting customers ahead of their profits, and energy costs are not a burden on Australian households and businesses.
- Introducing a Statement of Expectations for energy companies to provide extended relief to Australian households and small business customers experiencing financial hardship through the COVID-19 pandemic;
- Introducing a price cap to protect consumers from overpaying
- Eliminating deceiving late payment penalties
- Simplifying energy bills to make them simpler and easier for consumers to understand
- Passing the ‘big stick’ legislation to hold the energy companies to account and ensure reductions in wholesale costs are passed through to consumers
The Federal Government said it will continue to take necessary actions to ensure that all Australians, particularly those doing it tough, have access to affordable reliable power.