The eye of Sauron seems to have fallen on the energy industry, intent on ratting out the last whispers of a looser past. Today, the Victorian government introduced its new Energy Fairness Bill to parliament to “protect Victorian households and businesses from aggressive and exploitative practices.”
The new legislation will ban door-to-door sales for solar businesses, electricity and gas retailers, deeming the practice “high pressure sales tactics.” For solar companies, the ban will come into effect on September 1, 2021, while for electricity retailers it will be delayed until the end of the year.
“We’re putting energy companies on notice,” Victoria’s Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio, said.
The state government’s new legislation comes after company Vic Solar was fined $3 million for ‘predatory’ tactics earlier this month. In March, Powershop’s Kogan Energy brand was also fined $300,000 after Victoria’s Essential Services Commission found the energy retailer was offering solar customers more expensive electricity plans than non-solar customers.
The changes are not limited to the state of Victoria either, with the Clean Energy Regulator, a Commonwealth government agency, spending the first half of this year introducing a sweep of new tools, rules and taskforces to oversee them.
Victoria’s Energy Fairness Bill
The new legislation primarily focuses attention on retailers, rather than solar businesses, with its heftiest measure being a penalty of up to $1 million for energy retailers who arrange the wrongful disconnection of vulnerable customers. This measure, the government said in its statement, is to “protect customers in particular who are on payment plans or who require electricity for life support.”
Victoria’s government is also introducing penalties of up to $1 million for gas and electricity licensees who provide false or misleading information to the Essential Services Commission.
Additionally, the bill bans ‘save’ and ‘win-back’ offers, like short-term discounts which ultimately end up costing customers more in the long run. “This misleading tactic is used by retailers to stifle competition and by banning them, customers will be able to judge the genuine best price in the market – and not just for a limited time,” the Victorian government said.
It went on to say the new legislation is intended to make the energy retailer market fairer and more transparent.
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