Aus Gov: ‘We Expect Energy Companies To Keep Their Customers Connected’
The Australian Energy Regulator has issued a set of expectations for energy companies, which aims to ensure that households and small business customers are protected during the COVID-19 pandemic.
These expectations primarily involve:
- Waiving disconnection, reconnection and/or contract break fees, as well as daily supply charges, for small businesses that have gone into hibernation;
- Offering all households and small businesses that say they are in financial stress a payment plan or hardship agreement;
- Not disconnecting customers in financial stress without their agreement;
- Deferring referral of any customer to a debt collection agency for recovery actions or default listing; and
- Minimising the frequency and duration of planned outages for critical works, and providing as much notice as possible for any outage.
All of these expectations are in place until at least the 31st of July 2020.
In a statement released today the government said they would be closely monitoring retailer and network compliance with these measures.
“We expect energy companies to look after their customers, keep them connected and waive additional fees and charges for those doing it tough,” Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said.
“We expect them to do more to help small businesses who have gone into hibernation to avoid any energy costs, and we expect them to pass on the huge price drops we are seeing in the wholesale market.”
The government has said that while it believes it is important that customers who can pay their bills continue to do so, energy companies should do more to help those in need given the difficult circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, beyond the usual hardship arrangements.
There are also plans underway to improve reporting so that the Australian Energy Regulator can more quickly identify and assess where energy customers are experiencing difficulty.