Firm in Mackay for landmark electricity class action claim
LAWYERS behind a landmark class action against the state's two major electricity companies are seeking locals to sign on to the claim.
The proposed class action is seeking to recover compensation for customers between 2014 and 2019 and will allege CS Energy and Stanwell Corporation engaged in conduct that artificially increased energy pricing.
Law firm Piper Alderman is seeking residents and businesses in the Mackay and wider region to register for the action against the two companies.
"The two largest generating companies in Queensland - Stanwell and CS Energy - have a substantial degree of market power and used that power to manipulate the supply of wholesale energy," Piper Alderman partner Greg Whyte said of the key allegations against the companies.
The claim will allege the two companies adopted "gaming" strategies in their supply of electricity which, in doing so, created artificial scarcity of supply in the National Electricity Market, inflated prices for consumers and prevented other generators from competing for market share.
Stanwell and CS Energy rejected the claims.
Mr Whyte said about 13,500 consumers had registered or sign on to the class action, ranging from large companies to "mums and dad".
"The aim of the class action is to recoup losses that consumers have suffered as a result of that (alleged) unlawful conduct," he said.
The class action, backed by litigation funder Litigation Capital Management, would apply to the period between 2014 and 2019.
Mr Whyte said Stanwell Corporations and CS Energy controlled about 70 per cent of the electricity dispatched in Queensland.
He said if the action was successful, electricity consumers could expect to be "compensated for their losses" and while unable to specify an amount, said it would be a "significant proportion of your electricity" over the five-year period, plus interest.
The claim is yet to be filed, and Mr Whyte said anyone interested could register at qldenergyclassaction.com.au
Stanwell and CS Energy earlier this year responded to the class action, with statements from both companies reaffirming their commitment to the Queensland community.
Stanwell said it rejected the allegations and would fight any claim if it was filed in court.
"Stanwell refutes the allegations of misuse of market power being made by Piper Alderman and its litigation funder, Litigation Capital Management, as part of their entrepreneurial efforts to promote a class action against Stanwell," a July 24 statement read.
"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.
"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."
A statement from CS Energy on July 21 said the company's priority was delivering competitively-priced power.
"We are extremely disappointed by the proposed class action by Piper Alderman and their privately-funded backers, LCM Finance," the statement read.
"We are a proudly Queensland-owned and based company that provides power to some of our state's biggest industries and employers.
"We are particularly concerned on behalf of all Queensland consumers about some of the promises being made to vulnerable families by a privately-funded class action in what has been a tough year for many.
"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."
Representatives from Piper Alderman will be in Mackay on Thursday and Friday this week.