Will your energy supply be interrupted by COVID-19?

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Fallout from the global coronavirus pandemic has led to some drastic measures which are impacting key infrastructure, such as Australia’s energy grids. While our networks are experiencing an increase in demand, many of the nation’s distribution companies and industry bodies have announced they’re doing everything possible to keep the power on. In this article, we’ll take a look at whether or not there’s cause for concern, as well as list some helpful information during these extraordinary times.

Will your energy supply be interrupted?

Energy distributors are well-equipped and trained to handle adverse situations such as the current COVID-19 pandemic. It’s unlikely that electricity or gas supply will be interrupted to households and small businesses, however distribution companies have stated that customers should anticipate longer call waiting times, as well as delayed response times for crews to attend non-critical jobs.

Any customers experiencing a fault, interruption or loss of supply should contact their relevant energy distributor. For any life-threatening emergencies, such as fallen powerlines, call 000.

A statement from the Energy Minister

Energy Minister Angus Taylor stated that COVID-19 is testing power grids and networks but assured Aussies the energy sector is well-equipped to handle the increased demand.

“One of my top priorities will always be to keep the lights on for Australian families and businesses,” Minister Taylor said. “At the same time, governments and industry are working closely together to make sure there is no disruption to energy supplies and that the sector is following the best practice approaches to infection control to keep their workforce safe.

“The energy sector is good at responding to disruptions. The industry has well-established risk management, emergency management, and business continuity plans, which are regularly tested and improved.

“Ministers also agreed to work together to coordinate any potential emergency responses, and to work with industry to remove barriers that might be making it more difficult for the industry to respond.”

Calling your energy distributor about a supply fault

It’s important to remember that energy distributors are the companies customers will need to contact if there is a supply issue, not retailers who are in charge of billing. Here is a list of faults contact numbers for electricity distributors in each state:

State Distributor Contact number
NSW Ausgrid 13 13 88
NSW Endeavour Energy 13 10 03
NSW Essential Energy 13 20 80
VIC Citipower 13 12 80
VIC Powercor 13 24 12
VIC Jemena 13 16 26
VIC Ausnet Services 13 17 99
VIC United Energy 13 20 99
QLD Energex 13 62 62
QLD Ergon Energy 13 22 96
SA SA Power Networks 13 13 66
WA Western Power 13 13 51
WA Horizon Power 13 23 51
TAS TasNetworks 13 20 04
ACT EvoEnergy 13 10 93
NT Power and Water Corporation 1800 245 092

Will planned power outages still go ahead?

Yes, planned power outages will still take place as maintenance to energy networks is still necessary during this period. Energy Networks Australia CEO, Andrew Dillon, mentioned in a statement that while scheduled electricity outages may be a nuisance, they are vital to ensuring a safe and secure energy system.

“We understand many customers are working from home during this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, however, to ensure you are able to continue to have power for weeks to come, critical maintenance must continue,” Mr Dillon said.

“It is likely that restrictions relating to COVID-19 will continue for several months. Networks are doing everything they can to minimise disruption while these urgent works are undertaken.

“For some critical work, power will be disrupted for a few hours. This is designed to avoid potentially catastrophic faults that could cause long term outages and put customer safety at risk.

“Please respect the crews performing these works, they are doing so to protect you and your families and ensure the safe and reliable supply of energy.”

Mr Dillon said steps would be taken to minimise interruptions as well as ensuring critical infrastructure, like hospitals, would have secure supplies.

“We ask for your patience as networks continue to carry out critical works,” he said.

Will energy generation continue as normal?

The energy generation companies, including major retailers like AGL, Origin and EnergyAustralia, all say they are taking action to ensure power generation is not interrupted during the virus crisis. In the event that generation capacity suffers, this could lead to high wholesale costs which would inevitably be passed onto customers. For now at least, energy generation seems to be under control and supply is able to meet demand.

In an email to customers, AGL said: “AGL plays an essential role in keeping the lights on for Australians and we take that responsibility seriously. Every day our people work tirelessly to make sure the energy that cooks your dinner, cools or heats your home, or powers your business is provided. We are proud of the work we do and the trust you place in us. During the evolving COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, we want to reassure you that we are committed to supporting our people, customers and the community. We are well-prepared.

“The nature of our business means that we are obligated to plan responsibly and maintain robust business continuity plans to ensure we are well-prepared to keep the lights on in your home and your businesses.

“Site-specific pandemic plans are in place across our operations, and with our flexible, diverse portfolio we are well-placed to manage any issues that may arise. We are also working closely with government and regulators to ensure our measures and response are appropriate to make sure the demands of Australian consumers are met.”

Are energy bills going to rise?

While energy generation is under control, there should be no additional costs to pass onto customers. However, this is of course subject to change.

As mentioned earlier, energy distributors maintain the grids and networks in a particular area to ensure power supply is stable and uninterrupted. Anything related to electricity bills will be a matter for energy retailers, who deal with account details and general customer enquiries. Customers who are at home more during the COVID-19 crisis should expect energy costs to be higher than normal given household power consumption increases the more time you spend at home.

If you’d like to know more about the additional costs of working from home or support being offered by retailers, visit our helpful pages below:

Is it a good time to switch energy providers?

Look, we get it. Right now, you probably have more important things on your mind, and that’s perfectly fine. But if you’re reluctant to switch energy providers in fear of losing or disrupting power to your home, then you needn’t be. Changing energy providers has nothing to do with your power supply, and is generally taken care of by the company that you’re looking to switch to. This makes the whole process a breeze, especially when paperwork is the last thing on your mind. Check out some of the cheapest deals in your state below.

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: urbans/Shutterstock.com

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