Jan 20, 2021

Generators to fight major energy price class action

Generators to fight major energy price class action

Queensland generators Stanwell and CS Energy say they will fight a class action being filed in the Federal Court of Australia by law firm Piper Alderman.

The QLD Energy Class Action is a legal claim being brought against the two Queensland state-owned electricity generators on behalf of more than 40,000 electricity customers.

It alleges that they manipulated the electricity pricing system and artificially inflated consumers’ electricity bills.

CS Energy issued a statement vowing to defend any class action ‘lodged by a law firm and funded by overseas corporate backers’, saying the corporation rejected these claims.

“Queenslanders should question who will benefit from a claim like this – is it Queenslanders or an overseas litigation funder whose main interest is making a return on their investment in class actions?” it said.

“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.”

CS Energy said there was strict oversight of the National Electricity Market by the Australian Energy Regulator and that previous investigations had found price changes were due to a wide range of influencing factors, including extreme weather fluctuations.

Stanwell said it would not know the specifics of the allegations until the claim was registered, but understood that Piper Alderman was alleging Stanwell misused its market power to influence wholesale electricity prices.

“We strongly refute any allegation of misuse of market power,” the generator said in a written statement.

“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.” (See more details on the issue from Stanwell HERE)

Piper Alderman said it had initiated the class action in June 2020 and it was funded by LCM (an Australian litigation funder).

The action was brought on behalf of anyone who paid for electricity in Queensland at any point from 20 January 2015 to 20 January 2021 and who had registered to participate.

Greg Whyte, head of Piper Alderman’s Dispute Resolution and Litigation team in Brisbane said the team had spent more than two years investigating Stanwell and CS Energy’s conduct.”.

“The facts indicate, and we will seek to prove, that the defendants manipulated the wholesale cost of electricity for their own profit. It amounts to a hidden tax paid by Queenslanders,” he said. 

“We brought this action on behalf of Queensland-based businesses and households who have all been affected.  The conduct of Stanwell and CS Energy has had a devastating effect on the Queensland economy.”

He encouraged more Queenslanders to join the action by visiting www.QLDEnergyClassAction.com.au