Behind the meter complaints and case studies

It's not just solar panels

Service provider

Complaints opened involving
behind-the-meter products

Electricity > network > authorised       9
Electricity > not allocated 19
Electricity > retail > authorised 325
Electricity > retail > exempt*              4
Total 357

* Distributed Energy Resources within embedded networks or exempt sellers offering solar powered purchase arrangements (SPPA)

Table 9 - Top 10 core issues for closed complaints involving behind the meter technologies, January to March 2022

EWON core complaint issue (closed cases)       Total
Billing > high > disputed 119
Billing > tariff > feed-in 75
Customer service > poor service 74
Digital meter exchange > delay 43
Billing > estimation > meter access / not read 40
Customer service > failure to respond 30
General > energy / water* 25
Billing > error > other 18
Billing > estimation > meter fault 18
Digital meter exchange > billing > estimated bill 14

* Complaints are often about solar installation companies, which are outside EWON’s jurisdiction.

Energy consumers in NSW have access to a range of behind the meter products and services beyond rooftop solar systems and batteries. The Energy Security Board has now commenced work on its Distributed Energy Resources (DER) Implementation Plan that was developed as part of the Post-2025 Market Design project. The reforms under consideration, such as introducing flexible trading options at the connection point for small retail customers, will dramatically speed up consumer engagement with these new products and services.

It is important that consumer protections including external dispute resolution for energy customers remain fit for purpose as the energy market is reformed and energy services evolve. A number of complaint case studies from this quarter illustrate the services that will increasingly feature in energy complaints to EWON. These go beyond the simple sale of rooftop solar systems, disputes about new connections, and feed-in tariffs, and include:

  • retailer demand response programs
  • virtual power plants
  • data services provided by energy retailers and/or solar retailers
  • power purchase agreements offered by both energy retailers (authorised) and solar retailers (exempt sellers)

Case Study:  VPP continues to operate customer’s battery after contract ends 

A customer agreed to an energy plan with an authorised energy retailer (under a white label) that included participation in a virtual power plant (VPP). The contract allowed the retailer to remotely control the customer’s battery and inverter as part of the operation of the VPP. The customer decided to switch energy retailers three months later because he felt that the VPP was not delivering the expected financial benefits. Nine months later, the customer discovered the VPP software installed on the inverter was still active and controlling the export of electricity from his battery to the grid. The customer complained to the energy retailer responsible for the VPP contract that the software still appeared to be operating and did not receive a helpful response. However, he noted that the software stopped operating a month later.

EWON referred the matter to the authorised retailer for resolution at a higher level with the customer’s acceptance and knowledge that he could return to us if he was unhappy with the outcome.

The customer contacted EWON again to advise that his previous energy retailer had contacted him following our referral, advised him it had made a mistake and corrected the software issue. He also advised EWON that he had accepted the retailer’s offer of $200 compensation.

Case Study: Credit default listing relating to a solar power purchase agreement

A customer contacted EWON after discovering a credit default placed on his credit file on 7 January 2020 for $3,266. The credit default listing related to a non-payment for energy he had used under a solar power purchase agreement with an authorised energy retailer. The customer discovered the default when he applied for personal finance and paid the debt in full. The retailer advised the customer that the default listing complied with the requirements of the Privacy (Credit Reporting) Code 2014 and would not be removed. The customer considered this unreasonable as he had been making regular payments at the time the default was listed. 

EWON’s review identified that the customer and energy retailer had agreed to a payment arrangement of $247 per month commencing 30 August 2019. The customer made payments of $60 per week and was therefore falling short of the required monthly amount by less than $10. This led to cancellation of the payment arrangement in November 2019. The customer continued to pay $60 per week after the payment arrangement was cancelled and was still making payments when the default was listed on 7 January 2020. It was not clear whether the retailer had made reasonable contact attempts to discuss the shortfall with the customer and understand why he was not meeting the monthly payment amount. The energy retailer agreed to remove the default listing on the basis that the customer had demonstrated willingness to pay during the default listing notice cycle.