Working from home, self isolation and keeping up good hygiene are all recommendations from government and health officials to minimise the risk of contracting or spreading the coronavirus.
But as more Aussies continue to work from home or are asked to abandon work altogether, electricity, gas and water usage may be at a higher demand than normal.
To ensure the nation’s power grid remains reliable during the coronavirus outbreak, Federal Energy Minister, Angus Taylor is reportedly meeting with market operators and retailers on Friday to discuss emergency response solutions should staff at generators become unable to work.
The meeting will also look into the grid’s ability to cope during high pressure periods, like the coronavirus and the recent bushfires.
UK and US utility giants to delay energy bill payments
To ease the financial strain caused by the virus, one of the UK’s biggest energy retailers, EDF Energy, announced it was considering delaying bill payments for customers that have been asked to stay at home.
Staying at home for twice the usual time reportedly adds an extra £52 a month ($104 AUD) to energy bills, or £624 a year ($1,250 AUD).
“Each case would be looked at on an individual basis, but additional support we could offer may include repayments made over a longer period of time, delay payment for a short period or offer alternative payment arrangements,” said an EDF Energy spokesperson.
Over in the US, Pacific Gas and Electric Co and Duke Energy are among the many retailers who’ve announced assistance packages to support customers as the outbreak continues, which includes pausing service disconnections, providing flexible payment plans and waiving late fees.
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Western Australia rolls out stimulus package for household expenses
WA Premier, Mark McGowan, announced yesterday that all household fees and charges, including electricity, water and vehicle registration will be frozen due to a spike in confirmed coronavirus cases.
The Energy Assistance Payment, a rebate offered to concession card holders, will also be doubled to $600 to help seniors manage their energy bills.
"For the first time in 16 years all household fees and charges will be frozen, providing relief and certainty to each and every West Australian," Mr McGowan said.
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UPDATE 25 March 2020
On March 24 2020, the Queensland government introduced a new stimulus package for households struggling to keep up with electricity and water bills. The package, which is worth $300 million for households, will provide a credit of up to $200 for utility bills.
“In recognition of the fact that if we’re asking Queenslanders to stay at home, they’re going to be consuming more power and water as they stay at home with their kids and their families,” said Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk.
“So we want to alleviate that additional cost on them and that’s what the $200 cash-back on electricity bills is all about.”