Energy networks pledge support to struggling households during COVID-19 crisis

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Households struggling to pay their power bills in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia are expected to benefit from new measures introduced by the companies behind the poles and wires in your street.

Energy Networks Australia, the national body representing the electricity and gas distribution businesses, has revealed a support package that should see customers on payment plans and hardship policies pay less during the coronavirus outbreak.

Energy Networks Australia CEO, Andrew Dillon, said the plan is aimed at residential and small business customers and will help ensure energy retailers can better assist those facing hardship.

“Networks will be deferring or rebating electricity and gas network charges for impacted customers,” Mr Dillon said. “This assists impacted customers and helps energy retailers, who administer energy hardship programs.

“Networks and retailers realise it’s important the industry pulls together to support the many small businesses and households who will face growing challenges over the months ahead.

“Networks will work with energy retailers to ensure the benefits of this package flow through to customers smoothly.”

While network costs can make up 40% of residential energy bills, it’s not clear how much customers can expect to save as a result of the plan, which will run from the start of April until the end of June.

The package is also aimed at supporting the country’s many small energy retailers at a time when some are struggling financially.

It’s a move welcomed by the industry body representing energy retailers, the Australian Energy Council. The AEC’s Chief Executive, Sarah McNamara, said the relief package complements the payment plan and hardship measures that retailers already have in place.

“Energy retailers stand with energy network businesses in our commitment to assisting customers who are doing it tough as a result of the VOCI-19 pandemic,” she said.

Jeff Dimery, MD & CEO of Alinta Energy, said the assistance is timely and very welcome.

“It’s terrific to see businesses from across the energy supply chain doing their bit to help those who will need our support right now and over the coming months,” he said. “I also want to say to customers – if you’ve lost your job, if your hours have been cut back, or if your business is struggling and you’re having trouble paying your bills, please ring us because we will help, and we will figure out a plan that works for you.”

Couple looking at energy bill

Time to be proactive with energy costs

Canstar Blue Editor-in-Chief, Simon Downes, said the plan from Energy Networks Australia looks set to provide further support to households doing it tough, but that all energy customers should be proactive in order to help themselves.

“Chances are anyone working from home, or just spending more time indoors, can expect higher than usual electricity bills in the weeks and months ahead. So it’s hugely important that people take measures to reduce their costs where they can. This means being mindful of their energy consumption and taking the time to find a better power plan,” said Mr Downes.

“But we’re also looking to the energy companies for support. We’ve paid incredibly high bills for years now and it’s time that consumers were given a helping hand. Customers already in hardship programs are being pledged support but the vast majority of households are not involved in these programs and still need help. The last thing people need right now is the financial stress of a large energy bill.

“We’re seeing some token gestures of support in the energy industry, but what we really need is a reduction in the underlying cost of powering our homes. The networks have an opportunity to pass on savings and retailers also have a chance to generate some good will from their customers with a reduction in rates.

“For consumers, we should keep our eyes peeled for the cheapest rates around and don’t be afraid to switch and save right now to help take some of the stress out of the months ahead.”

Electricity Prices Compared

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Ausgrid network in Sydney but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 3900kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Citipower network in Melbourne but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Energex network in Brisbane but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4600kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the SA Power network in Adelaide but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Image credit: IngeBlessas/Shutterstock.com

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