Australian Power and Gas (APG) will be referred to the consumer watchdog after misleading customers about an extra charge on their electricity bills.

The power company added a once off renewable energy charge of $12.98 to bills sent out this month. The Courier-Mail reported that when a Beenleigh pensioner inquired about the charge she was told by the company that it was a government tax.

The Queensland Energy Ombudsman didn’t have information on the charge, suggesting it was a State Government fee. Queensland Energy Minister Mark McArdle said he was seriously concerned about the APG charge and would refer it to the ACCC.

In an explanation provided to the Courier-Mail by a spokesman for AGP, the cost was due to increased renewable energy compliance costs for the company:

“Earlier this year, the Federal Government unexpectedly increased the number of certificates we are required to obtain (under the Small-Scale Renewable Energy Scheme), increasing the costs from $9.51 to $22.49 per customer,” said the spokesman.

“To recover these extra costs between January and June, customers in Queensland and New South Wales have received a one-off charge of $12.98 on their bill issued from March 1, 2013.”

The power company, which operates in NSW, Queensland and Victoria, has approximately 40,000 customers in Queensland. This also comes after APG earlier this month revised its forecast for a year to June profit, flagging a net loss of $5 million after bad debts and difficult wholesale electricity market conditions.