The Essential Services Commission said the incident occurred because Ausnet had failed to keep its network mapping system up to date. “This was a planned outage and Ausnet knew they’d be cutting off the power but they didn’t know who it would impact,” Essential Services Commission chairman Ron Ben-David said.
“Ausnet has failed to meet expectations.”
While the ESC declined to say how many homes and businesses were affected, Mr Ben-David said it investigated 15 individual outages and handed down $10,000 fines for each instance.
Mr Ben-David said the failure to notify businesses could have led to financial losses as a result of an inability to trade and the spoilage of perishable goods like food.
“Customers who are not notified of a planned interruption to their electricity supply don’t have the chance to prepare for the loss of power,” he said.
The penalty handed down to Ausnet is half the size of the largest ever fine given by the ESC.
In August last year, the Essential Services Commission fined electricity retailer Alinta $300,000 after 15 customers were signed without their knowledge by salespeople working on its behalf.
An ESC investigation found marketing and sales group Alinta used to get new customers had created fake customers or switched people to the retailer without their consent.
The regulator had also threatened to revoke electricity retailer and generator AGL licence to operate in Victoria after the company had provided inaccurate information on its performance, customer complaints and customer debt levels.
Covering energy and policy at Fairfax Media.