Energy class action claim filed in power compensation bid
A landmark class action claim against two Queensland-based energy providers has been filed in the federal court in a major development for the lawsuit.
Law firm Piper Alderman says it signed on more than 40,000 electricity customers to the claim over the past six months after information sessions across the state, including Mackay and Sarina.
More than 1000 residents in Mackay are understood to have signed on to the claim.
The firm said the claim was filed in the Federal Court of Australia on Wednesday.
The class action is seeking to recover compensation for any customers who paid for electricity between January 20, 2015 and January 20 this year.
The claim alleges CS Energy and Stanwell Corporation engaged in conduct that artificially increased energy pricing.
CS Energy said it would defend the claim and rejected “these false claims about us”.
Stanwell, in a statement last year, said it “refutes the allegations of misuse of market power”, and it would defend its conduct “in the appropriate forum, the courts”.
Piper Alderman dispute resolution and litigation team head Greg Whyte said the action was available to all Queensland businesses and residents.
“We brought this action on behalf of Queensland-based businesses and households who have all been affected,” Mr Whyte said.
“There is a lot of complexity in electricity generation and power prices.
“Our team has spent over two years investigating Stanwell and CS Energy’s unlawful conduct.
“The unlawful conduct occurred at the generation stage, and your retailer simply passed that cost through to consumers.”
The filed claim sought damages on behalf of registered participants only, but Piper Alderman had indicated it would apply to join new registrants to the action.
CS Energy, in a statement, said there was strict oversight of the National Electricity Market by the Australian Energy Regulator, and previous price changes were due to a “wide range of influencing factors”.
“As a Queensland-based and publicly owned Queensland business, the proposed class action is pursuing the revenues that we return to the state which are used to fund important services for all Queenslanders,” the statement read.
“Previous investigations found price changes were due to a wide range of influencing factors, including extreme weather fluctuations.
“Queenslanders have enjoyed the lowest average wholesale electricity prices in the National Electricity Market for the past three years.”
The class action is funded by litigation funder LCM.
Stanwell in a statement this morning said as at 9.30am, it had not yet been advised the claim had been filed in the Federal Court of Australia.
“Until the claim is registered, we won’t know the specifics of the allegations, however we understand that Piper Alderman is alleging Stanwell misused its market power to influence wholesale electricity prices,” the statement said.
“We strongly refute any allegation of misuse of market power.
“We are confident we have acted in accordance with the extensive rules which govern the National Electricity Market, and we have always been transparent in our trading activities.
“We intend to vigorously defend the class action in court, which will no doubt be a long and complex process.”