In Victoria, all energy and water companies must have a hardship program to assist people who are struggling to pay their bills. There are various areas that energy and water companies can help with, including:
- An affordable payment plan to help break bills into smaller payments.
- Energy and water efficiency information to help lower usage.
- Assistance with applying for the Victorian Government’s Utility Relief Grant Scheme (URGS) which provides up to $500 each for electricity, gas and water (subject to eligibility criteria).
- Putting you on a cheaper energy plan.
- Ensuring concessions are applied to your account.
- Referral to support services including financial counselling.
It’s important to remember that if you transfer your energy account/s to a new company, then your previous company is no longer required to offer you payment or hardship assistance. This could mean that your final bills are sent to debt colleciton if they are not paid on time and this may result in a credit default being listed.
If your company does not offer you hardship assistance such as a payment plan, backdating concessions (if applicable) or with an application for URGS, you can contact EWOV for assistance.
Government concessions and grants
- The Winter Gas Concession (WEC) is a 17.5% discount on gas use between 1 May and 31 October each year (only after the first $62.40 of a winter gas bill).
- The Annual Electricity Concession (AEC) is a 17.5% discount on electricity use all year round (only after the first $171.60 of an electricity bill).
- If you have missed concessions on your previous bills, ask your company to backdate the concessions. The Victorian Government’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) allows for concessions to be backdated up to 12 months.
If you receive the AEC or WEC and your annual electricity bills are over $2,725 or winter gas bills are more than $1,518, then you must contact your company to ask for the Excess Energy Concession application to continue to receive the 17.5% concession.
There are many other concessions available for customers with eligible concession and pension cards. You can visit the DHHS website to find out more about concessions and grants or call the DHHS Concessions Unit on 1800 658 521. EWOV also has a fact sheet with more information.
Energy plans and efficiency
- To compare electricity and gas plans and see if there’s a better option for you, visit the Victorian Government’s Victorian Energy Compare website.
- For energy efficiency information, including simple and cheap tips and tricks to reduce your bills, visit the Sustainability Victoria, Victorian Energy Saver and Your Energy Savings websites.
Financial counselling services
There are many organisations that offer free and confidential financial counselling. You can ring the National Debt Hotline for free on 1800 007 007 to speak with a financial counsellor.