Fifth small energy retailer fails in wake of ongoing market struggles

Meter for electricity consumption to calculate electricity costs - optimised

A fifth electricity retailer has fallen over after failing to navigate the current energy market turmoil, with the Australian Energy Regulator again forced to instigate its ‘retailer of last resort’ powers to protect customers.

The latest notice was issued to Mojo Power East on Wednesday, which trades as People Energy, and which had around 500 customers across New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia, prior to its failure.

Despite the very similar names, it is understood that “Mojo Power East” has no affiliation to the seperate retailer “Mojo Power”.

Mojo Power East becomes the fifth electricity retailer since May to fail, as a period of surging wholesale electricity prices catches a growing number of retailers unprepared and unprotected by sufficient hedging contracts.

The Australian Energy Regulator instigated ‘retailer of last resort’ actions for both Pooled Energy and Weston Energy in late May, followed by Enova Energy in June and Power Club earlier this month.

Several other retailers have closed their doors to new customers, or even pleaded with existing customers to transfer to another retailer, as they struggle to pass through higher wholesale electricity prices unto their customers.

The ‘retailer of last resort’ actions effectively sees a retailer stripped of its customers, which are then transferred to one of the big three retailers, either AGL Energy, EnergyAustralia or Origin Energy.

In the case of Mojo Power East, it will see around 500 customers automatically transferred to either Origin Energy or EnergyAustralia.

A notice published by the AER says it instigated the ‘retailer of last resort’ action after Mojo Power East notified customers on 15 July that it would cease to supply power and had notified Ausgrid to disconnect those customers “as soon as possible”.

The AER says that Mojo Power East had indicated that it would cease supplying power to five local councils in New South Wales, triggering its declaration as a ‘failed retailer’.

Michael Mazengarb is a Sydney-based reporter with RenewEconomy, writing on climate change, clean energy, electric vehicles and politics. Before joining RenewEconomy, Michael worked in climate and energy policy for more than a decade.

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