The Queensland Competition Authority (QCA) has launched an investigation into Ergon Energy Queensland (Ergon Retail) for breaching the National Energy Retail Law Queensland Act 2014 (NERLQ Act) by overcharging large regional business customers.
QCA Chair Professor Roy Green said that under s. 64B of the NERLQ Act, 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 has been charging large regional businesses for metering costs, in addition to notified prices, since 1 January 2017,” Professor Green said.
Professor Green said the QCA had called on Ergon Retail to cease charging these amounts immediately and had commenced a full investigation to determine the full extent of the breach.
“Preliminary information from Ergon Retail indicates that about 1,100 large regional businesses have been overcharged a total of more than $760,000 for metering services, with some customers potentially overcharged thousands of dollars,” he said.
“The QCA’s investigation will confirm precisely how many customers have been affected and to what extent.
“This is a significant matter that requires a full investigation, and today we have taken action to ensure customers pay Ergon Retail only what the law requires.
“Once we have completed the investigation and have all the facts the QCA will determine what enforcement action should be taken against Ergon Retail.
“Our primary concern is for customers. We will do everything in our power to ensure they are fully refunded for any illegal charges and will not hesitate to protect customers by acting on any further breaches uncovered by the investigation.”
He said that based on current evidence the breach affects large regional businesses that use more than 750 megawatt hours of electricity per year.
He said the QCA was responsible for setting regulated retail electricity prices for regional Queensland based on network, wholesale energy and retail costs.
Any large business customers in regional Queensland with concerns about their bills should contact the QCA via their dedicated webpage http://www.qca.org.au/ergonmetering or Ergon Retail on 1300 135 210.
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