Energy enforcement

Status
In effect

Overview

We enforce the Electricity Distribution Network Code, the Gas Distribution Network Code and some Queensland-specific derogations to the National Energy Retail Law and National Energy Retail Rules.

We expect energy businesses to monitor their compliance with the codes and derogations that apply in Queensland. If a business contravenes an obligation, we expect to be informed within two business days of the business becoming aware of the breach.

Our enforcement guidelines set out the information we expect energy businesses to provide to us when they breach an obligation, the range of actions we may take, and the matters we may consider in taking enforcement action.

We also regularly check Energy Made Easy to ensure that prices for customers in regional Queensland comply with the prices we set, and that retailers do not attach fees to their standing offers that are not allowed. Retailers may only charge standing offer customers in Queensland the following fees:

  • historical billing data fee for data that is more than two years old, if requested by a customer
  • a retailer’s administration fee for a dishonoured payment
  • financial institution fee for a dishonoured payment.

Customers who believe that an energy business has breached a code or derogation, or who wish to make a complaint, can contact us through our contact form.

Register of breaches

Since 2008, we have been undertaking investigations when it comes to our attention that energy business breached their obligations. We have taken enforcement action where necessary—for example, against AGL, Origin Energy, Ergon Retail, Ergon Energy and Energex.

Our register of breaches lists the breaches that we are investigating or have investigated before, and action we have taken when we found breaches did occur. For some breaches, we are monitoring the reimbursement of affected customers.

Date Title Document
08 April 2022 Register of breaches (by energy businesses) pdf,178.58 Kb

Investigations in detail

Ergon Energy Retail charged standard retail contract customers on tariffs 12B and 22B prices that were not the notified prices for those tariffs between July and November 2021. Section 22A(2) of the National Energy Retail Law (Queensland) requires a retailer to charge small customers who are supplied under a standard retail contract the notified prices.

Title Document
25 June 2021 Other documents QCA letter to Ergon Retail – 21 February 2022 pdf, 229.76 Kb

Origin Energy is reimbursing customers who were incorrectly charged payment processing and paper bill fees on its standing offers between January and April 2021. Under section 22A of the National Energy Retail Law (Queensland), standing offer customers in Queensland cannot be charged payment processing or paper bill fees.

Title Document
03 August 2021 Other documents Origin Energy – QCA enforceable undertaking pdf, 601.62 Kb
29 April 2022 Submission Origin Energy – Progress report – March quarter 2022 pdf, 93.05 Kb
15 December 2021 Submission Origin Energy – Progress report – Dec 2021 pdf, 32.10 Kb
15 November 2021 Submission Origin Energy – Progress report – Nov 2021 pdf, 32.09 Kb
15 October 2021 Submission Origin Energy – Progress report – Oct 2021 pdf, 32.08 Kb
16 September 2021 Submission Origin Energy – Progress report – Sep 2021 pdf, 30.44 Kb
06 July 2021 Submission Origin breach of section 22A of the NERL – Origin report pdf, 80.18 Kb
06 July 2021 Other documents Origin breach of section 22A of the NERL – QCA media release pdf, 126.79 Kb

AGL Energy is reimbursing customers who were incorrectly charged late payment fees on its standing offers between January 2015 and August 2020. Under section 22A of the National Energy Retail Law (Queensland), standing offer customers in Queensland cannot be charged late payment fees. Our media release, AGL’s progress reports, and the enforceable undertaking agreed between the QCA and AGL, are available below.

Title Document
23 March 2021 Other documents AGL – QCA enforceable undertaking pdf, 966.72 Kb
28 April 2022 Submission AGL – Progress Report – Jan to Mar 2022 pdf, 99.05 Kb
31 January 2022 Submission AGL – Progress Report – Oct to Dec 2021 pdf, 101.20 Kb
29 October 2021 Submission AGL – Progress Report – Jul to Sep 2021 pdf, 100.26 Kb
30 July 2021 Submission AGL – Progress Report – Jun 2021 pdf, 97.76 Kb
25 June 2021 Submission AGL – Progress Report – May 2021 pdf, 98.12 Kb
01 June 2021 Submission AGL – Progress Report – Apr 2021 pdf, 97.01 Kb
07 May 2021 Submission AGL – Progress Report – Mar 2021 pdf, 98.61 Kb
06 April 2021 Submission AGL – Progress Report – Feb 2021 pdf, 101.12 Kb
09 March 2021 Submission AGL – Progress Report – Jan 2021 pdf, 99.92 Kb
05 February 2021 Submission AGL – Progress Report – Dec 2020 pdf, 99.74 Kb
24 December 2020 Submission AGL – Progress Report – Nov 2020 pdf, 98.56 Kb
05 November 2020 Submission AGL – Compliance Report – Oct 2020 pdf, 45.37 Kb
05 November 2020 Other documents QCA media release – AGL breach of NERL – Nov 2020 pdf, 129.57 Kb

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.

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

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.

Title Document
12 January 2019 Other documents QCA media release 29 Nov 2019 pdf, 522.55 Kb
12 January 2020 Submission Origin remediation report – November 2019 pdf, 82.12 Kb
10 September 2021 Submission Origin remediation report – Sept 2019 pdf, 81.68 Kb
25 February 2022 Submission Origin remediation report – August 2019 pdf, 83.68 Kb
25 February 2022 Submission Origin remediation report – July 2019 pdf, 80.74 Kb
07 September 2019 Submission Origin remediation report – June 2019 pdf, 81.03 Kb
25 February 2022 Submission Origin remediation report – May 2019 pdf, 81.78 Kb
25 February 2022 Other documents QCA media release 15 May 2019 pdf, 432.85 Kb

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.

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.

Title Document
25 February 2022 Other documents Letter to Ergon Energy – June 2018 pdf, 312.03 Kb
25 February 2022 Notice Warning Notice issued to Ergon Energy pdf, 555.72 Kb
15 September 2017 Other documents Media release pdf, 137.80 Kb

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.

Title Document
25 February 2022 Notice Warning Notice to Ergon Energy pdf, 132.03 Kb

On 25 July 2008, we issued Energex with a warning notice regarding its breach of clause 5.7 of the Electricity Industry 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.

Title Document
25 February 2022 Notice Warning Notice pdf, 49.48 Kb

Enforcement guidelines

Title Document
24 October 2020 Final report QCA Enforcement Guidelines – Oct 2020 pdf, 229.27 Kb
Title Document
26 October 2015 Final report QCA Enforcement Guidelines – Oct 2015 pdf, 392.81 Kb
25 August 2015 Draft report Draft enforcement guidelines pdf, 425.18 Kb
15 August 2011 Final report Guidelines for Pursuing Civil Penalties and Referring Matters to the Regulator in Relation to Industry Code Contraventions pdf, 150.92 Kb