The Victorian government has introduced new rules for solar companies and energy retailers banning the sale of home products and announcing penalties of up to $1million for retailers who wrongfully disconnect electricity vulnerable Victorians.
Sauron’s eye seems to have fallen on the energy industry, determined to spout the last whispers of a looser past. Today the Victorian Government introduced its new Energy Equity 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 companies, electricity and gas retailers, calling the practice a “high-pressure sales tactic”. 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 are putting energy companies on notice,” said Victoria’s Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio.
The new state government legislation comes after the 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 power plans than non-solar customers.
The changes aren’t 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 series of new tools, rules and working groups to oversee them.
Victoria Energy Equity Bill
The new legislation primarily focuses attention on retailers, rather than solar companies, with its heaviest measure being a penalty of up to $1 million for energy retailers who engineer the unwarranted disconnection of vulnerable customers. . The measure, the government said in its statement, is intended to “particularly protect customers who are on payment plans or who need electricity for life support”.
The Victoria 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 prohibits “savings” and “win-back” offers, such as short-term discounts that end up costing customers more in the long run. “This deceptive tactic is being used by retailers to stifle competition and by banning them, customers will be able to judge the true best price in the market – and not just for a limited time,” the Victorian Government said.
He added that the new legislation aims to make the market for energy retailers fairer and more transparent.
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