The South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS) has today congratulated the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) for its compliance and enforcement action against EnergyAustralia, in relation to alleged breaches of important consumer protections contained in the National Energy Retail Law and Rules.
SACOSS is particularly encouraged to see the enforcement of retailers’ obligations to offer and apply payment plans to customers who are struggling to pay their bills.
The AER alleges that between 2016 and 2018, EnergyAustralia breached the law including by wrongfully disconnecting eight customers, failing to implement its hardship policy and failing to provide those customers with the opportunity to enter into appropriate payment plans.
SACOSS CEO, Ross Womersley, said:
“We know South Australia has the least affordable electricity in the National Energy Market with some of the highest prices in the country and very high rates of disconnection. We also know that many retailers have not been offering suitable support to customers having trouble paying their bills.
“SACOSS has previously called for the AER to exercise its compliance and enforcement powers to ensure retailers meet their consumer protection obligations under the law.
“We believe early retailer identification and offers of support to customers are essential in preventing debt and disconnection. A focus on enforcing these important customer protections under the Retail Law will send a strong signal to all retailers that they must comply with their obligations to assist all residential customers experiencing payment difficulty.
“We strongly believe this enforcement action taken by the AER will make a significant difference to all customers, and particularly vulnerable customers.”