More than 40,000 Queenslanders will be represented in a class action against two state owned electricity generators, making it one of Australia's largest ever claims of its kind.
The class action, filed today by law firm Piper Alderman, alleges Stanwell and CS Energy manipulated the electricity pricing system and artificially inflated consumers' electricity bills.
Stanwell and CS Energy control around 70 per cent of the electricity dispatched in Queensland.
Allegations of market power abuse against the two entities have previously been investigated by the Queensland Productivity Commission, the Australian Energy Market Commission, the Australian Energy Regulator and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in 2017.
"There is a lot of complexity in electricity generation and power prices. Our team has spent over two years investigating Stanwell and CS Energy's unlawful conduct," says Piper Alderman head of dispute resolution and litigation Greg Whyte.
"The unlawful conduct occurred at the generation stage, and your retailer simply passed that cost through to consumers."
The action, filed in the Federal Court of Australia, is brought on behalf of anyone who paid for electricity in Queensland at any point from 20 January 2015 to 20 January 2021.
Piper Alderman says the majority of registrants are residential energy customers. However, there are also more than 1,600 business customers registered including ASX listed companies, industrial users of electricity and SMEs.
"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," says Whyte.
"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."
The class action was initiated on 18 June 2020 and is fully funded with all costs underwritten by litigation funder LCM, a subsidiary of Litigation Capital Management.
Business News Australia
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