Infringement notices paid
Hydro Tasmania’s Victorian-based energy retailer Momentum Energy has paid five infringement notices issued by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
The notices totalling $54 000 are in relation to Momentum’s late 2015 advertising campaign linking the electricity produced by Hydro Tasmania with the electricity sold by Momentum on mainland Australia. The campaign ran from October to December.
CEO Steve Davy said the business apologised for any confusion the campaign may have caused and had taken action internally to ensure it was not repeated.
The ACCC had concerns that aspects of Momentum's advertising campaign might mislead consumers about the source and attributes of electricity received by consumers who contracted with Momentum.
The matter specifically related to the way the National Electricity Market (NEM) operates. Energy generated by Hydro Tasmania and all other generators is fed into the NEM, managed by the Australian Energy Market Operator. The NEM comprises generation from both renewable and non-renewable sources. This means electricity from a particular generator cannot be directed to supply a particular retailer's customers. Therefore customers of Momentum may not receive, at their home or business, electricity that has been generated by Hydro Tasmania.
The ACCC’s Infringement Notice regime allows for alleged minor contraventions of Australian Consumer Law to be dealt with expeditiously. However, paying the infringement notices did not constitute an admission by Momentum to a breach of consumer law.
Mr Davy said that under the current circumstances, and with energy supply in Tasmania the number one priority, the business had chosen to comply with the infringement notices.
“Hydro Tasmania and Momentum Energy are committed to compliance with Australian Consumer Law and therefore took the concerns about the campaign very seriously and co-operated fully with the ACCC,” he said.
“Momentum believed strongly that its customers were entitled to know it is part of Australia’s largest renewable energy business. The advertising campaign in question was based around this proposition.
"On occasion people will have different opinions about what advertising conveys. We have now addressed those aspects of the campaign that may have caused confusion.
“Hydro Tasmania has reviewed its controls around advertising and marketing for all its businesses. New guidelines are also being developed for future advertising campaigns carried out by Momentum.
“While we are disappointed with the outcome, Hydro Tasmania remains committed to the Momentum Energy business and values the role it plays in supporting renewable energy, with its profits returning to Tasmania.
“We also remain committed to clear communications with our customers and consumers concerning our business."
All material relating to the original Momentum campaign has been withdrawn or removed.
About Momentum Energy
Momentum Energy is 100 per cent wholly-owned by Hydro Tasmania and its profits contribute to the ongoing investment in maintenance of our renewable energy infrastructure. It retails gas and electricity to customers in Victoria, and electricity to customers in New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory, as well as the Bass Strait islands. It is not allowed to retail in Tasmania.
Momentum Energy employs more than 250 people, including 27 at a call centre in Tasmania.