Electricity provider Locality Planning Energy Pty Ltd (LPE) has paid a penalty of $10,500 after the ACCC issued it with an infringement notice for an alleged contravention of the Electricity Retail Code.
This is the first enforcement action taken by the ACCC for a breach of the Code.
The Code was introduced in July 2019 to reduce confusion and make it easier for consumers to compare retail electricity offers. It imposes rules on electricity providers for how they must advertise prices and conditions on market and standing offers.
The ACCC alleges that LPE breached the Code by publishing an offer on its website but failing to include:
- a comparison of its offered price to the reference price, which is the benchmark price set by the government,
- the total amount a customer consuming an average amount of electricity would pay in a year based on the offered price, and
- the distribution region and type of small customer to which the offer applied.
“By not displaying the information required by the Code, LPE made it difficult for consumers to assess the value of the deal against others advertised in the market,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.
“Electricity retailers have had plenty of time to ensure they comply with the Code and the ACCC will not hesitate to take enforcement action against those who fail to do so.”
Note for editors
The Competition and Consumer (Industry Code—Electricity Retail) Regulations 2019 (Electricity Retail Code) is a mandatory industry code prescribed under the Competition and Consumer Act.
The Code was implemented by the Australian Government in response to recommendations made in the ACCC’s Retail Electricity Pricing Inquiry report.
The Code requires electricity retailers to include certain information when advertising or publishing their market offers.
The Code’s provisions apply to electricity retailers’ offers to household or small businesses in distribution regions where a model annual usage and reference price are in force (particularly New South Wales, South Australia and South East Queensland).
Under the Code, prices and discounts must be calculated and advertised against the reference price as a comparison percentage.
The ACCC has issued a guide to energy retailers about the Code, which commenced on 1 July 2019.
LPE is a subsidiary of Locality Planning Energy Holdings Limited (ASX: LPE) and entered the energy market in November 2014, offering electricity in Queensland and in some parts of New South Wales.
Example of website advertisement by LPE:
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