The Australian Energy Regulator has commenced Federal Court proceedings against power giant EnergyAustralia, after eight of the retailer’s customers had their power disconnected during financial hardship.
The AER alleges EnergyAustralia breached National Energy Retail laws, which require retailers to provide protections to customers in financial difficulty.
The retailer allegedly failed to implement its hardship policy or offer to apply payment plans to customers – instead, it simply disconnected them.
“We’re alleging that EnergyAustralia knew these people were in financial hardship and disconnected them anyway,” AER chair Clare Savage said.
“EnergyAustralia’s alleged failures made these customers’ situations worse by denying them access to the full range of protections to which they were entitled.”
Savage said customers facing financial distress should contact their retailer to access the hardship protections that they’re entitled to.
“It can be tough to start a conversation about payment difficulties, and hard to know where to turn for help,” Savage said.
“If you expect to have trouble paying an upcoming bill, or your debt is mounting, call your retailer. It is their job to help you. As long as you are in a hardship program and meeting its conditions, you cannot legally be disconnected.”
The AER is seeking pecuniary penalties, declarations, orders requiring implementation of a compliance program and the appointment of a compliance officer, and costs.
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