Energy watchdogs join forces to protect vulnerable customers

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) and the Essential Services Commission of Victoria (ESCV) have banded together to safeguard energy customers facing financial hardship during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Both regulators have called on energy retailers to submit more consumer data - above what they currently provide - in order to closely monitor energy customers and their ability to pay their bills during this time. 

“When people have lost their jobs or business through no fault of their own, it is only fair to expect that they be given any and all help possible, and that includes from their energy providers,” said AER Chair, Clare Savage. 

“We are asking retailers to provide more timely information to us about matters such as hardship, payment plans, disconnections and credit collection so we can monitor how customers are being supported during this time.”

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Some of the information energy retailers are expected to provide on a weekly basis include the number of customers paying energy bill debt and the average energy bill debt amongst customers. This reporting was previously done on a quarterly basis. 

Similarly, retailers will also need to share the number of customers on their hardship program and the average hardship debt on a monthly basis. 

Savage explained that by having this information on hand, the AER and the ESCV will be able to provide assistance to customers who need it most. 

“This information will also give us the ability to respond quickly and appropriately to early warning signs of energy customers experiencing distress,” she said. 

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If you’d like to find out more about what your retailer is doing to help customers during these extraordinary times, have a read of our COVID-19 energy financial hardship relief wrap up.  

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