Last chance to join electricity prices class action
TIME is running out to join in more than 10,000 people in a class-action lawsuit over electricity prices paid by Gladstone residents between 2014 and 2019.
The class action proceedings organised by Brisbane law firm Piper Alderman are against Queensland’s two largest electricity generators, Stanwell Corporation and CS Energy.
About 70 per-cent of electricity produced in Queensland is controlled by Stanwell and CS Energy.
A Piper Alderman spokesman said the action would seek to recover compensation for all electricity customers in Queensland between August 2014 and December 2019.
“The claim alleges that Stanwell and CS Energy artificially created scarcity of supply of electricity to the market to spike energy prices for their own profit,” the spokesman said.
If ruled correct by the court, this contravenes section 46 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
Piper Alderman head of Dispute Resolution and Litigation Greg Whyte said the case was about abuse of market power.
Allegations of price manipulation have been investigated by the Queensland Productivity Commission, the Australian Energy Market Commission, the Australian Energy Regulator and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
“Stanwell and CS Energy have used their position to unlawfully manipulate the wholesale cost of electricity and that has driven up the prices paid by all Queensland businesses and consumers,” Mr Whyte said.
“It’s had a devastating effect on the Queensland economy.
“We are trying to stop that behaviour and recoup the losses that illegal conduct has caused. For businesses. For Queenslanders.”
A Piper Alderman spokesman said the law firm planned to file the class action on behalf of its clients “very soon”.
Stanwell Corporation refuted Piper Alderman’s claims of abuse of market power in a statement on July 24.
“If Piper Alderman and LCM commence proceedings against Stanwell, as they are threatening to do, Stanwell will vigorously defend its conduct in the appropriate forum, the courts,” the statement said.
“Stanwell has an impeccable record of compliance with all of the laws and rules which govern our conduct within the National Electricity Market.
“Piper Alderman and LCM have, we believe, been very selective in their publication of out-of-context snippets from detailed and complex regulatory reports.
“Stanwell is very proud of the work our people do every day to generate electricity and make it reliably available to our ultimate owners – the people of Queensland.
A CS Energy spokeswoman said we are extremely disappointed by the proposed class action by Piper Alderman and their privately-funded backers, LCM Finance.
“We are a proudly Queensland-owned and based company that provides power to some of our state’s biggest industries and employers,” the spokeswoman said.
“More than 500 of our staff live and work in the Queensland communities where we operate, and we will continue to support them and the customers who rely on us to power their operations every day.
“Our number one priority, as always, is to safely deliver reliable and competitively-priced electricity to power our economy – Queenslanders have had the lowest average wholesale electricity prices in the National Electricity Market for the past three years.
“We will continue to provide jobs and opportunities that support Queensland families and businesses.”
All residents and businesses of Queensland are invited to register their interest in the action through the registration portal.