Your new entitlements to help with high energy bills (December 2018)

It’s no secret that energy prices have gone up in recent years. Here at EWOV, we’ve certainly seen that complaints about high bills and affordability continue to be a major concern for Victorians.

That’s why it’s important to know that from 1 January 2019 you have new entitlements to help you cope with high energy bills.

  • Less than $55 owing - Standard Assistance

Under the new entitlements, if you want help to manage your energy costs or are worried that you may not be able to pay your bill by the due date you are entitled to ‘standard assistance’ from your energy retailer.

Standard assistance includes things like changing your billing cycle from quarterly to monthly or fortnightly, allowing you to pay for your energy in advance, or setting up a payment plan so you can manage your energy costs more easily.

Your energy retailer must provide you with full advice of all your options under standard assistance.

  • $55 or more owning - Tailored assistance

If you are already behind on your bills and have $55 or more owing on your energy bill/account, then you are entitled to ‘tailored assistance’.

Under tailored assistance you are entitled to a payment plan that will help you clear your energy debt within a period of two years or less. If you fall behind on this plan, an extension beyond the two-year period is possible.

You are also entitled to advice about how to reduce your energy costs, and any government or non-government assistance that may help you pay your bills (for examples, concessions or grants).

Again, your energy retailer must provide you with full advice of all your options.

  • Practical assistance

If you are already behind on your bills and cannot afford your future energy use, you are entitled to even more help under tailored assistance, called practical assistance.

Practical assistance includes putting a 6 month hold on the debt you owe, while you continue to pay less than your current use and your retailer works with you to help you lower your energy costs. This period can be extended if that would help, as you continue lowering your costs.

Practical assistance also includes practical advice on how to reduce your energy bills, based on where you live and your pattern of energy use.

Again, your energy retailer must provide you with full advice of all your options.

Summary

Under the new rules, your energy retailer must work with you to help you avoid falling into energy debt. If you already owe an amount on your energy account , your energy retailer is required to work with you to clear the debt and help stop it from happening again.

So, if you find yourself struggling to pay your energy bills don’t be afraid to ask for help.

It doesn’t matter which option you need – you are entitled to help!

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