40,000+ Queenslanders accuse companies of deliberately inflating energy prices

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Queenslanders fed up with high power bills have taken matters into their own hands, as Australia’s biggest ever energy class action lawsuit was filed with more than 40,000 registrants.

The lawsuit is being brought against two market-dominating, state-owned electricity generators, CS Energy and Stanwell Corporation, for allegedly manipulating supply to drive up energy prices.

This isn’t the first time these companies have found themselves under the spotlight, as back in 2017, former Minister for Energy, Josh Frydenberg, asked the Australia Energy Regulator (AER) to investigate them over price gouging claims.

It was reported that the AER had already conducted an investigation, and found that high wholesale prices were caused by demand and weather-related constraints, not foul play by generators.

The class action is funded by an international litigation finance company, and will represent Queenslanders who paid for power between January 2015 and 2021.

The law firm heading the suit, Piper Alderman, will seek reimbursement for the alleged abuse of power, according to Greg Whyte, head of Dispute Resolution and Litigation.

“The facts indicate, and we will seek to prove, that the defendants manipulated the wholesale cost of electricity for their own profit. It amounts to a hidden tax paid by Queenslanders,” he said.

“We brought this action on behalf of Queensland-based business and households who have been affected. The conduct of Stanwell and CS Energy has had a devastating effect on the Queensland economy.

“Queenslanders who paid for electricity between January 2015 and January 2021 are invited to visit www.QLDEnergyClassAction.com.au to register for the action. I encourage them all to join.”

Claims rejected by CS Energy and Stanwell

Both CS Energy and Stanwell have made statements in defence of the claims against them, stating they will defend against any allegations in court.

A statement from CS Energy’s website read: “There is strict oversight of the National Electricity Market by the Australian Energy Regulator. Previous investigations found price changes were due to a wide range of influencing factors, including extreme weather fluctuations.

“Queenslanders have enjoyed the lowest average wholesale electricity prices in the National Electricity Market for the past three years.”

Stanwell also weighed in, it too referencing the AER’s prior investigation.

“At no stage has the Australian Energy Regulator found Stanwell misused its market power or breached market rules. Many of the allegations being made by Piper Alderman quote a 2016 report by the Grattan Institute.

“The Australian Energy Market Commission – which makes the rules for the National Electricity Market – has reviewed the Grattan Institute’s 2016 report and dismissed many of the claims contained in it, including key allegations which Piper Alderman is levelling against Stanwell.”

Power savings available sooner to those who compare

Waiting around for a class action lawsuit to pass is one way to potentially save on power, but a much more efficient approach is switching electricity plans.

Queenslanders on the most expensive energy plans stand to save hundreds a year just by shopping around for a better offer, according to Canstar Blue Editor-in-Chief, Simon Downes.

“There are easier ways to access bill savings than awaiting the resolution of a lawsuit, and it can be achieved from the comfort of your couch,” he said.

“In the same amount of time it takes you to read a news article, you could enter in your past bill details on our comparison tool and find yourself a cheaper power plan.

“Why wait? Within minutes you can have it sorted, and you should start seeing an improvement on your energy bill in a few months.”

QLD Energy Price Comparison

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Energex network in Brisbane but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4600kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area and to see other products in our database that may be available. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision. The next three tabs feature products exclusively from AGL, EnergyAustralia and Origin.

Here are the AGL Energy plans on our database for SE QLD. These are products from a referral partner†. These costs are based on the Energex energy network in Brisbane but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4600kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area and to see other products in our database that may be available. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are the EnergyAustralia plans on our database for SE QLD. These are products from a referral partner†. These costs are based on the Energex network in Brisbane but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4600kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area and to see other products in our database that may be available. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are the Origin Energy plans on our database for SE QLD. These are products from a referral partner†. These costs are based on the Energex network in Brisbane but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4600kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area and to see other products in our database that may be available. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Image credit: Yavdat/Shutterstock.com

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