Energy retailer fined for tardy payments to customers

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An energy retailer has been fined for failing to pay its customers on time for service failures.
An energy retailer has been fined for failing to pay its customers on time for service failures.

A major energy retailer has been fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for allegedly breaching service payment rules.

Blue NRG has been slugged with $436,176 in penalties for failing to follow Victorian energy directives on payments related to guaranteed service levels, between July 2021 and June 2022.

The company allegedly failed to credit $125,000 worth of guaranteed service level payments to 427 customers within the required time frame, according to the Essential Services Commission.

This resulted in the impacted customers not receiving guaranteed service level payments.

While most customers were eventually credited the relevant amounts by Blue NRG after the failures were identified, some who had changed retailer and could not be contacted did not receive payments they were entitled to.

A guaranteed service level payment is money an electricity distributor pays to customers if they experience long or frequent power outages, or poor service.

Commissioner Sitesh Bhojani said the payments were introduced in July 2021 to compensate customers in a set time frame when guaranteed service levels are not met.

“When distributors fail to meet guaranteed service levels, customers deserve timely acknowledgement of the inconvenience,” he said.

“Retailers should have robust systems and processes in place to ensure that guaranteed service level payments from distributors are passed on to customers within the required timeframe.”

Blue NRG has been contacted for comment.

The retailer provides electricity to more than 13,000 businesses in Victoria, NSW, South Australia and Queensland.

AAP