Victorian regulator puts AGL on notice over dodgy energy data

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Victoria’s energy regulator has threatened to review the retail license of the state’s biggest energy provider over its failure to submit accurate reporting statistics.

The Essential Services Commission (ESC) has told AGL to get its house in order after it admitted it could not provide crucial data on its performance.

The ECS says it will initiate a review of AGL’s licence to sell electricity and natural gas in Victoria if the energy retailer cannot supply accurate and reliable data to the regulator by the end of October.

Commission chair, Ron Ben-David, said AGL has an obligation to provide performance data on a regular basis.

“We, and the community, hold energy retailers to the highest levels of account and that requires retailers to give us regular and reliable data,” Dr Ben-David said.

Since the market was opened in the 1990s, all energy retailers operating in Victoria have been required to provide data to the commission on a quarterly basis to promote transparency about how the market is operating.

“It is extraordinary to think that AGL, the biggest retailer in the state, can’t even tell us how many customers it has at the moment,” Dr Ben-David said.

AGL is said to supply almost a quarter of all electricity and gas customers in Victoria. However, it has told the commission it is unable to provide data on:

  • the number of customers AGL has disconnected
  • the number of customers who had their bills estimated
  • how many customers are receiving a solar feed-in tariff
  • the number of customers it has enrolled in its hardship programs
  • how many of AGL’s customers are falling behind on paying their bills
  • how long customers are kept waiting when they call AGL

“This is not just about data. The community has a right to know what’s happening in the energy market and AGL is denying the community that right,” Dr Ben-David said.

The commission has warned AGL that if it fails to provide accurate and reliable data by 31 October, it will immediately initiate a review of whether AGL has the technical capacity to operate in accordance with its licence to operate in Victoria.

This has no impact on customers – AGL

AGL chief customer officer, Melissa Reynolds, confirmed the recent data inaccuracies, telling Fairfax Media that: “We reviewed the retail performance data we were providing to regulators and found some data was inaccurate.

“While it is important to note this is industry data and has no impact on customer accounts or bills, we apologise unreservedly.

“As a result of identifying these failures, we have made significant improvements to our data management systems.

“We are committed to meeting our performance and compliance reporting obligations which we take seriously.”

In August, the Australian Energy Regulator fined EnergyAustralia and Alinta Energy for providing late or inaccurate date.

Alinta was fined $40,000 and given two infringement notices for providing its figures on the number of small businesses in debt and market performance for South Australia and NSW a year late.

EnergyAustralia was hit with $20,000 in fines and an infringement notice for submitting some of its data 10 months late.

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