By Juliano Oliveira
Customers financially impacted by Covid-19 are being oriented to contact their energy provider.
In a note, The Australian Energy Council states that “energy retailers stand ready to provide scalable, accessible, and tailored assistance to all affected customers.”
The Council represents 23 major electricity and downstream natural gas businesses such as Energy Queensland, AGL, Origin, Delta Electricity, Cleanco Queensland, among others.
Clients expecting further difficulties when paying their bill, as usual, will be assisted with tips to lower bills, accessing grants and concessions, bill smoothing and other options to help customers avoid large bills, payment plans and extensions.
Proactive assistance measures will differ between retailers.
“For impacted residential customers who cannot pay their bills as they fall due, retailers will ensure there are no barriers to entering hardship programs, and ensure long term assistance is readily available on request. Impacted customers receiving hardship assistance will not be disconnected if they are unable to afford their energy bills.”
“For customers in the hardship program, AEC members will pause any external debt collection and bankruptcy proceedings, and will not charge any late fees if these customers cannot pay on time.”
It is critical that customers work with their retailer if they are able, to help minimise their costs and discuss sustainable long-term payment options.
“The AEC consider that this crisis requires a whole of sector response. In addition to these key commitments above, the AEC will be working with Networks, Governments, and other stakeholders to ensure emergency relief payments and other concessions are readily available and sufficient, as well as to work on developing other support measures as will no doubt be necessary over the next 6 months.”