New consumer protections introduced by the Andrews Labor Government have helped drive down the number of times energy companies disconnect customers who miss energy bill payments.
The Essential Services Commission today released its updated Victorian Energy Market Report which focuses on the performance of energy businesses.
The Report shows that there has been a significant drop in disconnections for non-payment of energy bills, from over 33,133 customers in the period from July to December 2015, to 20,000 customers in the same period last year.
However, there is clearly more work to be done with almost 700 breaches, 263 incidents of failing to provide customers with four days’ notice of a planned outage, and 379 wrongful disconnections.
The Andrews Labor Government last year introduced new legislation granting greater enforcement powers to the Commission to protect Victorians.
These new consumer protection and enforcement powers include:
- Doubling the payment that energy retailers must make to wrongfully disconnected customers
- A new $5,000 penalty that may be applied to energy retailers that make wrongful disconnections
- Penalty notices ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 for particular breaches of regulatory obligations
- An increased penalty of up to $100,000 for non-compliance with a civil penalty notice
- A ban on exit or early termination fees on retail energy contracts
- A requirement for energy retailers to advertise price increases on a specified date
The new legislation requires the Commission to publish a quarterly report which provides an independent source of information to consumers about how energy businesses are performing.
The full report is available on the Commission’s website: www.esc.vic.gov.au
Quotes attributable to Minister for Energy, Environment & Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio
“By fulfilling our election commitment we’ve made the entire system more transparent, making sure that energy companies provide a better service to their customers.”
“There are now stronger penalties for retailers that wrongfully disconnect their customers – and in the second half alone companies were forced to pay out more than $500,000.”