AGL’s Irresponsible Environmental History

article by Rod Knowles

AGL has an extremely unsatisfactory past history of irresponsible environmental management and non-compliance with environmental laws; in fact they have shown in recent times to have a blatant disregard for rules, regulations and the law:

The unsatisfactory management and compliance with environmental laws are listed as follows: 17 Jan 2019, AGL admits selling coal ash, from their Liddell and Bayswater Power Stations, contaminated with heavy metals to business customers (such as the concrete industry) that exceed limits set by the NSW Environment Protection Authority and has suspended sales due to safety concerns. See link below.

September 24, 2018, the Australian Financial Review reported that AGL was fined a record of almost $3 million by the Victorian Essential Services Commission (VESC) for “failing to offset its emission levels”, just a week after the Regulator threatened to kick the gas retailer out of Victoria. AGL’s Executive for Wholesale Markets, Richard Wrightson, apologised and said “…it was an oversight.”

On September 17, 2018, The Age newspaper reported that the VESC threatened to revoke AGL’s licence to sell gas and electricity unless AGL provides correct customer complaints data by end of October. 

VESC has told AGL “…to get its house in order…” after it was revealed that the energy retailer’s data on performance, customer complaints, hardship levels and customers debt was inaccurate. Forcing the Australian Energy Regulator to pull the past financial year’s statistics from its website The Age report went on to say VESC has given AGL one month to provide correct data – warning AGL if it fails, “the commission will immediately initiate a review of whether AGL has the technical capacity to operate in accordance with its licence to operate in Victoria”.

VESC Chairman Ron Ben-David said “…it is extraordinary to think that AGL, the biggest retailer in the State, can’t even tell us how many customers it has.

AGL’s chief customer officer Melissa Reynolds confirmed the inaccuracies and said “…we apologise unreservedly.

Additional Information

On September 26, 2018 the Annual General Meeting of AGL Shareholders was held at the Recital Centre in Melbourne. The entire AGL Board including the Chairperson Graeme Hunt was present. SWP representatives were also in attendance, and at question time a SWP Rep asked about their terrible performance regarding negligent, misleading and deceptive behaviour, failing to offset emission levels and the supply of dodgy data to the Australian Energy Regulator, as previously mentioned..

In answer to the question, Chairperson Hunt acknowledged what had been said, adding “…while not apologising for past poor performance we (AGL) need to do better”.

The transcript of the AGM is available here. SWP member’s question (Rod Knowles) begins at the end of page 29 and continues through page 30.

See below for to the newspaper articles re AGL’s noncompliance with environmental laws, also below are links to newspaper articles that demonstrate AGL’s contempt for rules, regulations and the law which has seen the Judiciary accuse them of negligent, deceptive and misleading behaviour. Behaviour that has cost AGL $6.5 million in fines in the last 5 years ($7 mill’ in the last 15 years).

• 29 August 2019 AGL fined $15,000 by NSW EPA for contaminated slurry spill “from the Muswellbrook power station, resulting in water pollution to a nearby endangered ecological community of river red gums”. 

5 March 2019 AGL fined $30,000 by NSW EPA for over 45,000 litres of diesel that overflowed near Tinkers Creek.

17 Jan 2019 AGL admits selling coal ash contaminated with heavy metals to business customers that exceeded limits set
by the NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA)

24 Sept 2018 AGL receives $2.99 million fine from Victoria’s Essential Services Commission for failing to surrender the correct number of Energy Efficiency Certificates (EEC) under energy efficiency regulations.

17 Sept 2018 AGL may lose licence to sell gas and electricity in Victoria due to incorrect data submitted to the Victorian Essential Services Commission regarding customer numbers, customer complaints, hardship levels and debts.

11 Sept 2018 AGL fails to provide accurate data to the Australian Energy Regulator on customer numbers, customer complaints and hardship programs.

29 May 2018 $15,000 for slurry overflow from ash dam infrastructure at Liddell Power Station.

16 May 2018 $10,000 for failing to collect data on two gas wells as part of the Camden Gas Project.

7 Feb 2018 $60,000 for failing to inform customers that their fixed term retail contracts were due to end and not allow enough time to negotiate improved terms or change suppliers.

9 Mar 2015 $15,000 for methane gas leak at Spring Farm in NSW.

11 Jan 2017 $124,000 for failing to declare political donations it made to NSW political parties.

8 Jan 2016   $30,000 for sulphuric acid pollution into Tinkers creek at Bayswater Power

11 May 2015 $40,000 for disconnecting customers in hardship programs or payment plans.

1 May 2015 $1.5 million for misleading customers about price rises and discounts in fixed contracts.

19 Dec 2013 $1,500 for briefly exceeding the Nitrogen Oxide licence limit at Rosalind Park Gas Plant.

8 Aug 2013 $150,000 for environmental project due to failure to comply with environment licence.

21 May 2013 $1.56 million for using illegal door-to-door sales tactics.

8 July 2005 $325,000 for gas explosion at Kogarah shopping centre in 1995 killing two people.

13 Aug 2003 $100,000 over the electrocution of a Melbourne carpenter in 1999.


October 2020

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