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Victorians impacted by severe storms will now have access to financial hardship grants for longer, with Ausnet extending the application period until 30 June. 

Following the storms on Tuesday 13 and Thursday 22 February, AusNet announced the establishment of a $10 million Energy Resilience Community Fund, which has subsequently been increased to $12 million. 

The fund was created to support communities impacted by storms, with a focus in the short term on supporting local recovery efforts and in the longer term, helping communities become more energy resilient.

AusNet CEO, David Smales, said that AusNet has been working closely with local government and the community to identify opportunities to strengthen infrastructure and help ensure they are better prepared to withstand future weather events. 

The Community Fund has provided immediate support to individuals and small businesses most impacted by the storm-related power outages who were not eligible for other relief payments.

“The fund has already provided more than half a million dollars in hardship grants to over one thousand residents and businesses most impacted by these storm events,” Mr Smales said. 

“We know many of our customers are struggling with cost-of-living pressures, so we’ve extended the timeframe to apply for financial hardship grants until 30 June 2024, to give households and businesses more time to apply.” 

AusNet is also in the process of establishing an Advisory Panel for the Community Fund, which will be chaired by former Energy Networks Australia CEO, Andrew Dillon.

Mr Dillon said that the panel will help to guide the management of the fund ahead of the first community grants round which is anticipated to open in July.

“The Community Fund has an important role to play in investing in local resilience infrastructure to help communities better manage the challenges of severe storms, fires and floods, which often cause extended interruptions to local power supplies.” 

Image: Graham Drew Photography/shutterstock.com

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