Victorian households and small businesses impacted by COVID-19 will have access to more support regarding their energy bills with the extension of the Network Relief Package.
Energy providers AusNet Services, CitiPower, Jemena, Powercor and United Energy agreed to the extension, which means eligible Victorian customers will continue to have electricity network charges deferred for a further six months from 1 August 2020 to 31 January 2021, applied to electricity bills issued in the period 1 September 2020 to 28 February 2021.
The Network Relief Package has already been extended once before, from 30 June to 31 July 2020.
It has now also been modified to replicate and expand on the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) proposed rule change to be adopted by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER).
The resulting relief package has been developed in consultation with the Essential Services Commission of Victoria and is a sensible and pragmatic approach that will:
- Apply to households and small businesses on a COVID-19 customer arrangement, payment plan, hardship arrangement or deferred debt arrangement with certain energy retailers
- Allow retailers to defer the payment of network charges to distributors without incurring any interest charges as contemplated in the AEMC proposed rule change
- Ensure small retailers are able to provide immediate and targeted relief for residential and small business customers enduring hardship as a result of COVID-19
- Continue to support the delivery of the AER’s Statement of Expectations by supporting retailers to not disconnect customers and prioritise the health and safety of customers
The networks are also minimising the impact of planned outages on customers when conducting critical work in order to sustain high levels of reliability for all households and businesses during these unprecedented times.
The offer to modify and extend the Network Relief Package acknowledges the impact of the continued restrictions in Victoria and recognises the importance of affordable and reliable electricity to literally keep the lights on for all customers and keep homes warm this winter.
Customers financially impacted by COVID-19 are encouraged to contact their retailers directly to discuss payment and relief options.