Electricity company provides dodgy data to regulator
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Electricity company provides dodgy data to regulator

The number of electricity complaints appears to be falling despite consumers still facing record high power prices but dodgy figures from one retailer has brought six months worth of household and business complaints into question.

The latest data from the Australian Energy Regulator shows the number of complaints made against retailers by households and businesses, but inaccurate data provided by certain retailers have put these figures in doubt.

Electricity complaints appear to have started falling but inaccurate figures have hamstrung data reporting.

Electricity complaints appear to have started falling but inaccurate figures have hamstrung data reporting.

Photo: Michele Mossop

While numbers appear to be falling for the quarter compared to previous years, as multiplying the quarter by four and comparing it to previous years shows lower figures, it is impossible to know by how much complaints have fallen due to the Australian Energy Regulator removing data for the first half of the year.

The AER was unable to provide definitive comparative complaint information for the first half of the 2017-18 financial year - when power prices reached their historical peak – due to inaccurate data provided to the regulatory body by certain retailers, removing it after inconsistencies were raised by Fairfax Media.

“We are concerned about the accuracy of the data reported by a particular retailer in this financial year and have removed data for quarters 1 and 2,” the AER said on its website.

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“We are currently looking into these issues.”

AER board member Jim Cox said the accuracy of retailer data report is key to the AER’s role in monitoring retail markets.

"Businesses that do not comply with the requirements under the rules are investigated and penalised significant sums. In this case, the AER had concerns about the accuracy of some data points submitted by a retailer and is obtaining more accurate data," Mr Cox.

The AER declined to name the retailer.

In most state, the Big 3 retailers – AGL, EnergyAustralia and Origin – accounted for the majority of complaints recorded, with AGL leading for most states.

These companies recorded the highest number of complaints predominantly because they have the highest proportion of customers.

In New South Wales there were nearly 24,000 residential complaints registered across the state in the third quarter.

AGL had the highest number of residential and business complaints, with 9908 recorded from households and 886 from business consumers.

Origin was the second most complained about retailer in the state, with 5687 complaints made against it by residential consumers and 435 business complaints.

EnergyAustralia rounded at the top three, recording 3686 residential complaints. Red Energy wasn’t far behind with 2462 complaints. Alinta demonstrated its growing presence in the state by rising in the number of complaints recorded to 557 for the quarter.

AGL accounted for most complaints as it has the highest number of customers.

AGL accounted for most complaints as it has the highest number of customers.

Photo: Image

In Queensland, AGL and Origin saw 4039 and 3562 complaints from households respectively while Ergon Energy was the third most complained about company at 956, followed closely by Alinta with 918.

South Australians complained the most about AGL, with 3475 complaints made by households about the retailer.

Origin Energy was the second most complained about retailer, with 1716 complaints recorded, and Simply Energy rounding out third most complained about company with 1607 complaints.

In the ACT, ActewAGL had more than double the number of retailer complaints compared to the second most complained about company Origin, at 210 to 101 complaints noted.

Data for Victoria was not provided.