AURORA has been fined $40,000 for cutting off power wit hout notice to customers known to require life-support equipment.
But the energy company says the fine by the Australian Energy Regulator is too much.
Aurora spokesman Richard Wilson said the definition of life support was broad.
“Aurora accepts that the regulator can issue the fines and has paid the regulator $20,000 for each of two alleged ‘type-one’ breaches after we reported these to the regulator,” he said
“However, we were surprised the regulator chose to issue the fines and we consider them to be out of proportion to the actual impact on the life-support customers involved.
“Aurora has well-established processes around the prioritising of electricity supply to life-support customers and Aurora voluntarily provides an electricity discount to customers reliant on life-support equipment. Neither incident for which Aurora was fined by the regulator involved injury to a life-support customer.”
The Australian Energy Regulator has asked Aurora to strengthen internal processes to meet its obligations to life-support customers.
Mr Wilson said work was already under way.
“The regulator had a range of possible enforcement responses and the alleged ‘type-one’ breaches were the first of their type to be reported by Aurora under the National Energy Customer Framework,” he said. “The framework has only been in force in Tasmania since July 1 this year and Tasmania and the ACT are the only two jurisdictions in Australia that are currently subject to it.
“Aurora’s error rate is very low when seen in context.”
Mr Wilson said up to 107,000 customers experienced a planned outage each year and Aurora had processed 6800 disconnections on customer premises in the first five months since the framework started, with an error rate of 0.059 per cent of the total.
The National Energy Retail Law and Rules that started in Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory on July 1 this year were set up, in part, to establish a framework for the protection of customers with medical life-support equipment.
So now lets hope that our bills don’t get jacked up because of this… 😐
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