More financial support on the way for low income households in the ACT

Eligible low-income households in the ACT will soon receive financial relief of up to $800 on their annual energy bills, as the territory moves towards a ‘price reset’ for customers on pricier default plans, otherwise known as standing offers.

The ACT Government reported it will provide additional support to roughly 31,000 lower and fixed income households on the Utilities Concession in 2021-2022, following the regulator’s decision to further support customers financially impacted by COVID-19.

ACT Energy Minister Shane Rattenbury said these concessions were increased to help vulnerable customers currently struggling with power bills and the ongoing cost of living.

“Any change to the cost of life’s essentials impacts people on low incomes the most. That’s why the government’s increased assistance is targeted to help those people. We’re making concessions available to more people, increasing the value of those concessions and increasing the hardship fund,” he said.

The Utilities Concession in the ACT will see a permanent increase of $50, taking the payment to $750 per year, however will increase to $800 next financial year in 2021-2022.

Mr Rattenbury said new legislation introduced also means Canberrans will soon have a reference price to compare energy deals from, as well as retailers having to communicate to customers if a better plan is available.

“Thanks to legislation we’ve passed as part of the Parliamentary and Governing Agreement, Canberrans will soon start to see new information on their energy bills to help them get a better deal. Starting in the second half of this year, retailers must compare their offers with the reference price and tell customers if a better deal is available. This will help customers to compare offers and make informed choices,” he said.

The Utilities Concession for the 2021-2022 financial year will be paid at a daily rate that varies in price in summer and winter. For further details, please visit the ACT Revenue Office website.

What is a reference price and how will it affect me?

The reference price was introduced in July 2019 in New South Wales, south east Queensland and South Australia as a means to create an easier energy market for consumers to understand and engage in. In Victoria, a similar system is in place known as the Victorian Default Offer (VDO), which acts as a safety net for customers who don’t engage in the market.

According to Andrew Barr, Chief Minister and Treasurer, around 40 per cent of Canberra households are still on standing offers when they may be able to find a cheaper energy deal.

The reference price is set to rollout across the nation’s capital later this year, with the exact pricing figure yet to be determined.

Am I eligible for the ACT Utilities Concession?

In order to receive the Utilities Concession in the ACT, bill-payers must hold either a Centrelink Pensioner Concession card, Centrelink Low Income Health card or Veteran’s Affairs/Gold card. The Utilities Concession is also being extended to those with an ACT Access Service Card as part of these changes.

This concession can only be applied to the primary place of residence and the account must be in the cardholder’s name. Only one resident from each household can claim the concession, even if both residents are eligible. To check your eligibility, visit the ACT Revenue Office website.

Are there other energy financial aid schemes available in the ACT?

The ACT also runs an Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme to help low-income households find energy savings. This scheme delivers energy saving products and tips to households and businesses, through the installation of products such as LED lighting, standby power controllers, draught sealers and energy efficient products. Of the 74,000 households and businesses who have already participated in this scheme, households have seen an average saving of $300 per year and businesses have seen an average saving of $5,200 per year. This scheme is in effect until the end of 2030.

To find more information regarding this scheme, head to the ACT Government’s Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate website.

ACT Energy Prices

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database for the ACT. These costs are based on annual energy usage of 5499kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff, and a selected postcode in Canberra, but these prices will vary depending on your own circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of price. Use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. This table includes products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals available in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

Image credit: Neale Cousland/Shutterstock.com

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