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The Victorian Essential Services Commission has released its March 2024 Victorian Energy Market Report (VEMR), which covers the period from 1 October to 31 December 2023.

Published quarterly, the VEMR aims to help customers understand how the energy retail market works and what they need to do to get the best out of it. It also highlights key compliance and enforcement outcomes delivered by the commission in the reporting period.

The March 2024 VEMR found that energy customers receiving payment difficulty support from their retailer are more likely to have higher energy bills than other customers, even when they are charged a lower effective price for their energy. 

This is typically due to circumstances that result in higher energy usage among this cohort.

The findings suggest that improving bill outcomes for Victorians who are experiencing payment difficulty requires a focus on both usage and price. 

There are a range of programs, including the Victorian Energy Upgrades Program, to help customers lower usage, and to support customers to pay bills.

Energy retailers in Victoria are legally obligated to provide customers in payment difficulty with information about their energy use and how to lower it, which can include providing practical help to reduce energy bills, for example using energy efficiency products.

The findings are outlined in further detail in the March 2024 VEMR.

Key compliance and enforcement outcomes for the quarter detailed in the report include the payment of penalty notices by energy retailers totalling more than $1.2 million. 

The penalties include $799,656 paid by AGL for allegedly miscalculating mandatory customer ‘best offer’ energy plan information, and $406,824 paid by CitiPower for allegedly failing to notify customers of planned power interruptions.

In addition, the commission commenced proceedings in the Supreme Court of Victoria for the first time on 14 December 2023, alleging energy retailers Sumo Power and Sumo Gas engaged in unlawful door-to-door marketing of energy contracts to more than 5,000 Victorian consumers.

On 22 December 2023, the commission commenced proceedings against energy retailers Origin Energy, Origin Energy (Vic) and Origin Energy Retail for allegedly failing to meet its obligations under the life support and payment difficulty frameworks, affecting more than 30,000 consumers including life support customers.

©2024 Utility Magazine. All rights reserved

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