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What your energy provider is doing to help Aussies affected by the bushfires

Ceyda Erem

Thursday 16 January 2020

If you regularly check the news or you've switched on your tv in recent weeks, you won't have missed the coverage surrounding the number of devastating bushfires burning across the country. 

Along with the thousands of generous donations from Aussies pouring in to charities and organisations, many energy retailers have also taken it upon themselves to lend a hand to those in need. 

Aside from making their own donations, energy retailers have also offered additional assistance by way of waiving late payments and offering energy credits to volunteers.

Below is a summary of some of the financial relief packages available for customers affected by the bushfires, plus ways to get into contact with your own retailer. 

Energy Australia 

Energy Australia has vowed to pause energy bills of both households and small businesses affected by the bushfires, as well as waive any payments owed on accounts. These customers will also have their reconnection fee waived once they start to rebuild their homes. 

In addition to that, Energy Australia will apply a credit worth $150 to the energy accounts of volunteer firefighters, donate to emergency support agencies and charities in affected areas, plus match donations made by Energy Australia employees. 

How to get in contact: Energy Australia has organised a team called EnergyAssist dedicated to providing assistance to customers affected by the bushfires. Customers are encouraged to call 1800 120 084. 

Origin Energy 

Origin Energy are providing short and long term assistance to customers in both bushfire and drought-affected areas and have asked that any customers experiencing financial difficulty request a payment extension either through their account or through the Origin Energy website. 

The retailer has also announced that it will donate $300,000 to the Australian Red Cross, the New South Wales and Queensland Rural Fire Services and the Victorian Country Fire Authority. 

How to get in contact: If you require long term relief, like hardship assistance, contact Origin Energy on 13 24 61 or head online for details. 

AGL

To say thanks for their commitment and hard work, AGL are helping thousands of volunteer firefighters who are AGL customers with a $150 credit on their electricity or gas bills. Those looking to claim their energy credit will need to provide their volunteer ID numbers to the AGL customer service staff to have the credit applied to their next bill.

In addition, AGL has paused billing and collections for customers affected by bushfires, and its subsidiary, Southern Phone, has waived overdue balances and current bills for residential customers who have lost their properties.

Southern Phone has also announced it will waive January service charges for all customers in fire affected areas as well as for customers who are firefighters, automatically crediting more than 7,000 bills.

Finally, AGL is contributing $200,000 to the Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund and have donated more than $18,500 to the Red Cross, Salvation Army and Wildlife Rescue Bushfire Appeals through AGL’s Power to Give platform. 

How to get in contact: Volunteer firefighters can call 131 245 before July 2020 to access their credit, while other AGL customers who have suffered significant loss can call the retailer’s dedicated bushfire relief helpline on 1300 001 545. 

Powershop 

Powershop has a range of relief options for customers, like pausing bills, account payment help and covering the cost to reconnect customers staying in either new or temporary accommodation. SES or firefighter volunteers can also claim a one-off $100 saving on their Powershop electricity account. 

The retailer launched its ‘Power It Forward’ Powerpack, which allows households who aren’t impacted by the bushfires to help those who are. The Powerpack includes a 6.6c/kWh premium that is then pooled and credited to the electricity accounts of impacted customers. 

Powershop also donated $25,000 to the Red Cross and $25,000 to the WWF bushfire appeals. 

How to get in contact: Customers seeking assistance can contact Powershop on either 1800 462 668, via social media or through email at info@powershop.com.au. 

Red Energy 

Red Energy, Snow Hydro’s energy retailer, is providing financial assistance to customers in New South Wales and South-East Queensland. Paul Broad, Managing Director of Snow Hydro said: 

“We will attempt to contact these customers in the coming days by phone to reassure them and to offer help, which might include bill credits, waiving debt, or advice on accessing government assistance.”

How to get in contact: Any customers affected by the bushfires are welcome to contact Red Energy on 131 806.

Alinta Energy 

Alinta Energy have announced a number of relief options for customers who have either lost their homes or are volunteer firefighters. 

To customers who live in affected areas or have lost their home or small business, Alinta Energy will: 

  • Pause bills and debt collection 
  • Waive any existing charges remaining on a customer’s account 
  • Begin regular communication with customers whose no longer under threat 

To volunteer firefighters, Alinta Energy will provide: 

  • A $200 credit to be applied to their Alinta Energy account

In order to access the credit, customers will need to submit an enquiry form and choose ‘Volunteer Firefighter’ as the enquiry type, while including their Alinta Energy Customer Account Number as well as the Volunteer ID Number for the state fire service they’re a part of. 

How to get in contact: Whether you are a customer, small business owner or firefighter, you’ll need to call 13 37 02 for help. Alternatively you can send an email at customer.service@alintaenergy.com.au. 

Firefighters in Western Australia are also able to seek assistance, but will need to call 13 13 58. 

Energy Locals 

Energy Local customers can have any of their energy usage written off if Energy Locals hadn’t sent a bill for at the point the fires affected a household. The retailer will also halve a customer’s membership for as long as they stay with Energy Locals once they move into their new home. Volunteer firefighters also have access to a discounted membership.

And if a customer has a friend sign up to an Energy Locals electricity plan between now and the end of March, the retailer will donate $50 to a relief organisation. For a customer signing up, they’ll need to enter ‘FIRE’ as the reason for switching, so Energy Locals are able to track the donations they make. 

How to get in contact: Energy Locals customers can call 1300 693 637 or email hello@energylocals.com.au for further assistance, regardless of your circumstance. 

If you’d like more information about what to do in events caused by the extreme heatwave, like a blackout, check out our energy tips hub. And if you’d like to find out more about what your bank is doing to help out Aussies impacted by the bushfires, have a read of our banking relief packages guide.

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