During 28 and 29 January 2018, 94,712 Victorian customers lost power at some point. We audited five Victorian electricity distributors to ensure that eligible customers were adequately compensated.
Heat relief audit 2019
Over the two days of Sunday 28 and Monday 29 January (the Australia Day weekend) 2018, 94,712 Victorian customers lost power at some point.
Following the outages, the Victorian Government:
- made a deal (called the 'heat relief package') with five Victorian electricity distributors to provide a $5 million relief package to approximately 50,000 affected customers
- completed a post-event review report that included a recommendation that we monitor the heat relief package payments made to customers.
In 2019, we audited five Victorian electricity distributors to ensure that compensation for these outages was distributed correctly:
- United Energy
- AusNet Services.
As part of this work, we checked the compensation schedule and the calculations of how people were compensated.
Customer compensation entitlements
The amount of compensation each customer was entitled to depended on their time without power. Distributors have already sent affected customers their compensation payments.
Time without power
3 – 20 hours
20 – 30 hours
More than 30 hours
Outstanding compensation not yet claimed by customers
As of 6 January 2019, there were still a large number of customers that had not banked their cheques.
AusNet Services (outer northern and eastern suburbs and eastern Victoria)
CitiPower (city and inner suburbs)
Jemena (northern and north-western suburbs)
Powercor (western suburbs and western Victoria)
United Energy (southern suburbs and Mornington Peninsula)
What we audited
- distributors correctly identified customers affected by the outage and eligible for compensation
- distributors let customers know they might be entitled to compensation for the 28 January 2018 outages
- what payments were made to customers, and whether distributors had contacted customers who hadn't banked their entitlement cheques.
Distributors can choose how they communicate information about these cheques to their affected customers.
We also wrote to all distributors to check that the outage on 28 January 2018 was considered for supply restoration payments to affected customers. All distributors confirmed that this was the case. Distributors paid a customer if they met the required threshold to qualify for a payment.
Key audit findings
Each distributor effectively identified eligible customers
Each distributor used multiple sources of information to identify customers that were off supply during the relevant period. While each distributor used different sources, they all carried out accuracy checks to ensure the information was complete, and they all maintained a list of eligible customers which was used by the auditors to confirm accuracy.
Distributors contacted affected customers through a variety of channels
Each distributor placed information on their website advising of the heat relief package. United Energy, CitiPower and Powercor also sent text messages to customers. All distributors sent a letter accompanying the cheque explaining the heat relief package payment.
Distributors had good processes in place to make payments to affected customers
All distributors used cheques as the primary form of compensation for customers. CitiPower, Powercor and United Energy also made EFT payments at the customer's request.
All distributors had a process for tracking the receipt of compensation. This included maintaining a register that recorded unbanked cheques. CitiPower, Powercor and United Energy reported the number of affected customers and the compensation amount in their March 2018 board reports.
Legislation protects customer compensation entitlements
Clause 6.3 of the Electricity Distribution Code says that a distributor must make a 'supply restoration' payment to a customer if that customer experiences a minimum of 20 hours of unplanned sustained interruptions per year. This payment should be made as soon as possible following the end of the year in which the obligation arises.
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