Energy enforcement action

Status
Past review

The QCA enforces the Electricity Distribution Network Code, the Gas Distribution Network Code, and some Queensland-specific derogations to the National Energy Retail Law (NERL) and National Energy Retail Rules (NERR).

Since 2008, the QCA has initiated enforcement action against Origin Energy and Ergon Retail for breaches of the NERL, and against Ergon Energy and Energex for breaches of the Electricity Distribution Network Code (or its predecessor, the Electricity Industry Code).

Energex and Ergon Energy use of ‘main switch and sticker’ process (2020)

In March 2020, the Queensland Government announced that Energex and Ergon Energy would cease power disconnections for households during the coronavirus disaster. Energy Queensland then advised the QCA that Energex and Ergon would use the ‘main switch and sticker’ (MSS) process to disconnect vacant properties during the disaster. The MSS process involves Energex or Ergon placing a sticker over the main switch at a customer’s premises instead of physically disconnecting supply by, for instance, removing the fuse.

On 5 May 2020 the QCA issued warning notices to Energex and Ergon Energy regarding their use of the MSS process to disconnect vacant properties during the coronavirus disaster.

Energex and Ergon are allowed, under the Electricity Distribution Network Code, to use the MSS process to disconnect premises where a physical disconnection would result in the temporary disconnection of multiple premises – such as in unit blocks. The QCA added the MSS process to the code in January 2014 (see our final decision for details).

The QCA appreciated that using the process to disconnect vacant properties is intended to support the decision to not disconnect customers facing difficulty paying their electricity bills during the coronavirus disaster. However, the QCA was concerned that using the process to disconnect vacant properties presented safety risks to customers and potentially the general public, and presented financial risks to electricity retailers.

Following advice from Energy Queensland, on 25 May 2020 the QCA informed Energy Queensland of its decision not to issue code contravention notices to Energex or Ergon. Energy Queensland’s advice, and the QCA’s response to Energy Queensland, are available below.

Report and papers

Date
Title Document
02 June 2020 QCA letter to EQ – 25 May 2020 pdf, 229.00 Kb
02 June 2020 EQ submission to QCA – 22 May 2020 pdf, 176.86 Kb
02 June 2020 EQ submission to QCA – 18 May 2020 pdf, 269.34 Kb
20 May 2020 QCA letter and notices to EQ – 5 May 2020 pdf, 644.75 Kb

Origin Energy late payment fees (2019)

We directed Origin Energy to reimburse all affected customers after we identified late payment fees in Origin’s standing offers. Under section 22A of the National Energy Retail Law (Queensland), standing offer customers in Queensland cannot be charged late payment fees. Our media releases and Origin’s remediation reports are available below.

Report and papers

Date
Title Document
01 December 2019 Other documents QCA media release 29 Nov 2019 pdf, 522.55 Kb
15 May 2019 Other documents QCA media release 15 May 2019 pdf, 432.85 Kb
Date
Title Document
01 December 2019 Submission Origin remediation report – November 2019 pdf, 82.12 Kb
09 October 2019 Submission Origin remediation report – Sept 2019 pdf, 81.68 Kb
13 September 2019 Submission Origin remediation report – August 2019 pdf, 83.68 Kb
16 August 2019 Submission Origin remediation report – July 2019 pdf, 80.74 Kb
09 July 2019 Submission Origin remediation report – June 2019 pdf, 81.03 Kb
20 June 2019 Submission Origin remediation report – May 2019 pdf, 81.78 Kb

Ergon Retail large customer metering investigation (2018)

We investigated Ergon Energy Queensland (Ergon Retail) for breaching the National Energy Retail Law (Queensland) by overcharging large regional business customers.

Ergon Retail is legally required to charge its large customers the regional retail notified electricity prices, set by the QCA each year.

However, Ergon Retail charged large regional businesses for metering costs, in addition to notified prices, since 1 January 2017.

We wrote to Ergon Retail to cease charging these amounts immediately and commenced a full investigation.

Based on the evidence it appeared that no residential or small business customers were affected—only large business customers consuming more than 750 MWh per year were affected.

Any large business customers in regional Queensland with concerns about their bills can contact us here.

Warning notice issued to Ergon Distribution (2017/18)

In September 2017, we issued a warning notice to Ergon regarding Ergon’s failure to meet the required standard for meter reconfiguration requests.

A meter reconfiguration service order request occurs where a retailer requests a distributor to reconfigure or reprogram a meter. Typically, a retailer would make this request to facilitate a change in tariff for a customer; for example, to change from one off-peak control load tariff to another.

Ergon met the required standard each month from November 2017 to April 2018, and in June 2018 we finalised the matter.

Report and papers

Date
Title Document
22 June 2018 Notice Letter to Ergon Energy – June 2018 pdf, 312.03 Kb
15 September 2017 Notice Warning Notice issued to Ergon Energy pdf, 555.72 Kb

Warning notice issued to Ergon Energy (2010/11)

On 16 November 2010, we issued a warning notice to Ergon Energy on the basis of its failure to meet five out of six if its MSS in two consecutive years (2008–09 and 2009–10). Our view that there was a reasonable possibility that it would again fail to meet its MSS in 2010–11. A copy of the warning notice issued to Ergon Energy can be downloaded below.

On 27 October 2011, following an assessment of information provided by Ergon Energy, we decided not to issue Ergon Energy with a code contravention notice on the basis that it had met the requirements of the warning notice.

Report and papers

Date
Title Document
15 November 2010 Notice Warning Notice to Ergon Energy pdf, 132.03 Kb

Warning notice issued to Energex (2008)

On 25 July 2008, we issued Energex with a Warning Notice regarding its breach of clause 5.7 of the Code. A copy of the warning notice can be downloaded below.

On 25 September 2008, we decided not to issue a code contravention notice having considered Energex’s response to the warning notice.

This decision was conditional on Energex completing the actions it had proposed in its remedial plan and providing us with progress reports.

Report and papers

Date
Title Document
15 July 2008 Notice Warning Notice pdf, 49.48 Kb