For the failure to promptly fix meters, the AER has issued eight infringement notices which led three AGL retailers to pay a total of 160,000 in penalties. Each infringement notice cost the AGL entities $20,000.
The infringement notices were issued as the AER found that there were sufficient grounds to believe that there was a breach of clause 11.87.7(h) of the National Electricity Rules (NER). The provision requires that a ‘financially responsible Market Participant’ receiving a notice of a metering installation malfunction under clause 11.87.7(g)(3) must ‘promptly appoint a Metering Coordinator’.
Note, Embedded Network Retailers are currently not considered ‘financially responsible Market Participants’. However, if the planned changes by the AEMC come into effect it is likely that the same rules apply to Embedded Network Retailers.
The infringement notices offer some guidance on how the AER interprets the retailer’s obligation to ‘promptly appoint a Metering Coordinator’. In the most significant case, AGL South Australia Pty Ltd appointed a Metering Coordinator 4 months after the infringement notice was issued. The AER found that 4 months to appoint a Metering Coordinator was not reasonable in the circumstances. In other cases the AER found 6 months or 8 months insufficient.
In summary, the infringement notices illustrate that the AER is unlikely to consider 4 months as a reasonable time to appoint a Metering Coordinator to fix customer meters that are faulty. However, this does not mean that an appointment under 4 months will be considered reasonable. Rather the infringement notices illustrate the pressing need for retailers to respond to notices of faulty meters with great urgency.