Powershop Pinged For Alleged Solar Discrimination

Powershop - Kogan solar descrimination

Meridian Energy subsidiary Powershop has coughed up $300,000 in penalties for allegedly discriminating against Victorian solar households under its Kogan Energy brand.

Victoria’s Essential Services Commission found Kogan Energy exclusively offered non-solar customers electricity plans with tariffs cheaper than those available to customers with solar power systems between 10 September 2019 and 7 April 2020. The Commission said this was a contravention of Section 23C(1) of Victoria’s Electricity Industry Act 2000, which states:

“A licence to sell electricity is taken to include a condition requiring the licensee to offer to sell electricity to a renewable energy customer at the same tariffs and on the same terms and conditions that it would offer to the customer if the customer was not a renewable energy customer.”

The average amount of disadvantage over the eight months was $25.13 and the highest $302.53. The Commission took into account Powershop’s co-operation and acknowledgement of messing up, which kept the number of penalty notices to 15 – the company was penalised $20k a pop.

Commission chair Kate Symons said with more than half a million solar households in Victoria, retailers need to support solar customers given the important role they play in Victoria’s future energy mix and that the action against Powershop sends a strong message to all electricity retailers operating in the state.

Kogan Energy, which launched in September 2019, is available to electricity customers in Victoria, New South Wales, South East Queensland and South Australia.

UPDATE 8:25AM: The following is part of commentary attributed to Powershop Australia CEO Jason Stein on the situation, provided after this article was originally published:

“We unreservedly apologise to our 161 customers that were impacted by this failure on our part and more broadly to our customers who will be disappointed to learn of these penalty notices. The whole team is honestly gutted that we made this mistake as it is absolutely not within our DNA, culture or our approach to business to negatively impact customers or to contravene industry regulations. As soon as we discovered the mistake, we reported it to the Essential Services Commission and notified impacted customers and remediated them immediately.”

How Solar Owners Can Compare Electricity Plans

Choice is a wonderful thing, but it can also create confusion. I avoid the biscuit aisle in Woolies these days for that reason – things were so much simpler when there was only one type of Tim-Tam!

Choosing an electricity retailer is of course a much more important and complex decision. While the results can be sweet if you pick the right one for your circumstances, choose the wrong retailer and it may leave a very bad taste in your mouth.

An electricity retailer offering the highest feed-in tariff isn’t always the best choice for owners of solar panels either. The best electricity plan for solar owners offers a balance of good feed-in-tariffs, low usage tariffs and low daily charges.

SolarQuotes has a very easy to use tool for comparing electricity plans wherever you live in Australia. Just enter your postcode, the size of your solar power system and estimated percentage of solar energy self-consumption; then a list of retailers sorted by estimated cheapest to most expensive over 12 months of billing is displayed. You can then also sort by usage rate, feed in tariff rate and daily charge.

The tool currently indicates that for a solar owner in Melbourne with a 6.6kW system and self-consuming 20% of solar energy generated, neither Powershop or Kogan Energy rank in the top ten in terms of estimated cheapest overall annual bill.

While SolarQuotes can’t guarantee all the values generated by the tool are correct, it’s useful as a starting point when comparing electricity retailer plans.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. Unfortunately, in Western Australia, with the applicable monopolies, and the abolition of consumer protection, bastardy toward households with rooftop photovoltaic systems, is allowed and encouraged.

    When we got our first household rooftop photovoltaic system installed, the powers that be (yes, I am aware of the pun) determined that such electrical systems generate Monsters of the Id (if you have watched the movie “Forbidden Planet”, you will understand the type of monsters to which I refer), making coming to the household meter box, a life-threatening activity (sometimes, kittens can scare some people), and so, they decided that reading our meter, that they made us pay a fee to replace the previous one, would be too dangerous and life-threatening (raising the question of where they kept their machine guns, when they installed the replacement meter that was required), and, of course, as it was general knowledge (??) in the powers that be, in WA, that getting a household rooftop photovoltaic system installed, caused the household electricity imported from the grid, to increase significantly, once the PV system was operational, as household rooftop photoivoltaic systems drain massive amounts of power from the grid, that they send to the sun, according to the WA powers that be, the powers that be, increased the electricity usage from the grid, for which they charged us, without reading the dangerous electricity meter that they dangerously installed.

    And, they got away with it, without penalty, and, without us being compensated for the fraud and malfeasance, and, general government bastardy, because, this IS WA, where the government and its corrupt departments, are above any laws.

    And, because of the monopolies here in WA, we could not choose alternatives.

    But then, with the fossil fuel companies lining the pockets of the members of the WA parliament, it is probably not so surprising.

  2. Section 23C(1) Must not be in South Australia.
    In SA if you get Solar Up will go your rate instantly,
    I looked at an Origin bill today
    Why has my electricity bill gone up since I got solar asked the customer,
    Because Origin Jacked up your rate from 38c a kw to 45c a kw,,

    But its OK,, Its legal in SA to rip off customers.

    • Les Zetlein says

      In SA (and maybe other States) you have the right to change plans offered by a retailer or even change retailers, whether or not you have solar power installed. I suggest you do some homework and compare your current plan with Origin against plans offered by other retailers. A friend has recently had an 8kW system installed, and he is still on the same plan with AGL that he had pre-installation. He pays around 32c/kWh for imports and receives 12c/kWh feed-in tariff. Sounds like there are better deals out there for you — if you look for them. In addition, if you tell Origin you are thinking of leaving them they may offer you a better deal.

  3. The comparison tool does not appear to be working for me in 3011, it goes away as if it’s loading but no results appear…

  4. Shane T. Hanson says

    Jason Stein and his team of stone wallers…

    Jason just LOVES customers.

    And when they ASK you to pay MORE for their GREEN electricity, well the money for that does not go for targetted wind and solar installations, it goes into the money pot….

    If green renewable power is SO cheap to generate, how come “The Power Shop” is charging MORE for it?

    • Ronald Brakels says

      By law electricity retailers have to pay for Renewable Energy Certificates when they sell “green power” and they cost money. Whether or not any particular retailer is charging a reasonable amount for their green energy is another matter.

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