AusNet Services will support customers affected by bushfires in Gippsland and the Upper Murray regions by putting in place special assistance measures.
Many customers in these areas have already experienced lengthy power outages. For a small number of customers, the severity of the damage to the electricity network and the ongoing fire and safety conditions means it will be weeks before power is fully restored.
The priority for AusNet Services is safely reconnecting customers to mains supply as soon as possible. It is also working on putting in place special assistance measures for those customers that have been impacted.
This includes fast-tracking payments under the Victorian Guaranteed Service Level (GSL) scheme. Most customers whose supply has been impacted by the bushfires will be eligible for a payment of up to $360 under this scheme. Normally, it can take several months for the payments to be made so AusNet will ensure that eligible customers have access to them promptly and in a convenient form.
AusNet will also waive the Network Standing charge (between $118-$130 depending on the customer type) for all customers who have been without power for more than seven consecutive days.
AusNet Services will also waive fees and charges that would normally be applied to standard reconnections (on a like-for-like basis).
AusNet understands the difficulties and frustration for customers who are currently without power and whose restoration date is likely to be at least three weeks from when access is gained. The company will contact those customers individually to discuss their situation and possible means of assistance.
This assistance may include small, household generators which can power a limited number of electrical items such as refrigerators, lights, computers and mobile phones. AusNet hopes this will provide some comfort for the duration of time customers remain without power.
AusNet Services has also established a Victorian Bushfires Workplace Giving Appeal and made an initial company donation of $100,000. It will match all donations made by its employees to this appeal.
Commenting on the bushfires and customer support measures, AusNet Services Managing Director, Tony Narvaez, said, “On behalf of all of us at AusNet Services, I want to extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives in these fires and all of the communities that have experienced their devastating impact.
“We know that customers have lost their homes or had extensive damage and inconvenience. AusNet Services will do what we can to ease the financial burden on customers as communities begin to rebuild and recover.”