COVID-19, Money

COVID-19: SA – Helping with energy costs for South Australian residents

Published on March 30, 2020 7:48 am, by

Key points

  • If you are suffering financial hardship contact your energy provider and let them know – they will be able to help
  • If you contact your energy provider you are unlikely to have the gas or electricity disconnected even if you can’t pay the bill
  • If you can, switch to the cheapest gas and electricity plans you can find
  • Make sure you register for any government rebates or concessions you are entitled to. Usually they cannot be back dated so register asap. The South Australian Government offers a number of energy concessions and assistance packages which may help

New assistance options from energy companies

Energy costs are a major part of most household budgets these days and heading into winter they are only likely to increase. If you have lost your job or your income has reduced significantly it’s going to be tough paying your energy bills. The good news is there are a range of things in place to help – from energy company hardship procedures to government rebates.

The government has told energy companies that:

  • all consumers who are suffering financial hardship should be offered a payment plan or hardship arrangement (regardless of whether they meet the usual requirements for hardship)
  • no consumers gas or electricity should be disconnected without their agreement before 31 July 2020 or later
  • no customer should be referred to a debt collection agency or have their credit file updated until at least the 31 July 2020
  • they should be willing to make changes to existing payment plans that customers may have in place

The bottom line is, you won’t have the gas or electricity disconnected if you follow some simple steps. The main thing you need to keep in mind is to contact your energy company. They can’t help if they don’t know you need it.

If you are under financial pressure but you can still pay your bill

If you are still working or earning an income and you can still afford to pay the bill but you are worried things might get worse:

  • Make sure you are on the cheapest plan you can find – don’t waste a single dollar paying more than you need to for gas or electricity. The average household pays about $600 a year more than they need to for gas and electricity. That $600 is money you will need for other things so do you research, find the cheapest plan and switch. Today! We can help you do this with MoneyBrilliant’s Bill Watch service or you can do it yourself using the government’s Energy Made Easy service.
  • Make sure you are claiming all the government benefits and rebates you are entitled to. Many states have energy rebates for seniors and low income earners. If they are on offer, take them
  • If you need to, extend the due date for payment of your current bill. Energy company’s will usually agree to extend the due date by about a month
  • Ask if you can go onto a payment plan that will “smooth” your payments. This might help avoid situations where you get bill shock say in winter because of heating costs
  • Ask for advice from your energy company about reducing your energy costs. There are all sorts of ways to reduce your energy costs from changing your lights and appliances to changing your behaviour

If you have lost your job, been stood down or cannot afford to pay the bill

If you cannot afford to pay your bill there are a number of options available:

  • Contact your energy provider and ask them if they have a hardship program that allows you to keep the electricity or gas connected while you try to pay your bills
  • Make sure you are registered for any government rebates you are entitled to – this will make sure that you only pay what you need to pay
  • See if you can work out a payment plan with your provider, but if you can’t, try not to worry – you won’t have your gas or electricity cut off – at least not yet.
  • Make sure you have registered for income support. Read our guide to income support for people impacted by COVID-19

Government assistance

The South Australian Government offers the following concessions and assistance packages:

Energy bill concession – this concession is available to people who have low or fixed incomes. The concession is $226.67 and covers both electricity and gas payments. To be eligible you must live at the property, be listed as an account holder on the energy bill, hold an eligible concession card or receive an eligible Centrelink payment and not be living with anyone who has an income of more than $3,000 per year unless they either get an allowance from Centrelink or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs or they are your spouse, domestic partner or dependent. Eligible cards are Pensioner Concession Card, DVA Gold Card, Low Income Health Care Card, Commonwealth Seniors Health Care Card. Eligible Centrelink payments are  JobSeeker Payment, Widow Allowance, Youth Allowance, Partner Allowance, Parenting Payment, Special Benefit, Community Development Project (CDP), New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS), ABSTUDY, Austudy, Farm Household Allowance (FHA) and War widow pension under legislation of the United Kingdom or New Zealand. You can apply online for this concession or you can download an application form, complete it and email it to concessions@sa.gova.au Please note that applications submitted online are processed more quickly than applications submitted by email.

Residential park resident concession – this concession is available to people who live in residential or caravan parks and is a single combined concession to help with energy, water and sewerage bills. The concession is up to $537.47 per year for residents who own their own dwelling and pay for water, sewerage and energy and up to $353.07 per year for tenants who pay for water and energy. To be eligible you must live at the property, be listed as an account holder on the energy bill, hold an eligible concession card or receive an eligible Centrelink payment and not be living with anyone who has an income of more than $3,000 per year unless they either get an allowance from Centrelink or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs or they are your spouse, domestic partner or dependent. Eligible cards are Pensioner Concession Card, DVA Gold Card, Low Income Health Care Card, Commonwealth Seniors Health Care Card. Eligible Centrelink payments are  JobSeeker Payment, Widow Allowance, Youth Allowance, Partner Allowance, Parenting Payment, Special Benefit, Community Development Project (CDP), New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS), ABSTUDY, Austudy, Farm Household Allowance (FHA) and War widow pension under legislation of the United Kingdom or New Zealand. To apply for this concession you must download an application form or contact ComcessionsSA and ask for the form to be sent to you. Once completed the form should be emailed to concessions@sa.gov.au

Energy Discount Offer – people receiving the Energy Bill Concession are also eligible for the SA Concession Energy Discount Offer with Origin Energy. This offer includes a guaranteed 20% discount on electricity usage and supply charges and 11% of gas usage and supply charges. It also provides flexible payment options and no late payment, processing, paper bill, credit card or exit fees. To apply for the Energy Discount Offer you must contact Origin Energy on 1300 791 465

Cost of living concession – this concession is available households with low incomes to help with cost of living expenses such as electricity, water, gas or medical bills. as part of its COVID-19 response the South Australian Government has announced an additional, once off payment of $500 for recipients of the Cost of Living Concession who are also receiving the Centrelink JobSeeker Payment. This means that for the 2020/21 financial year  the concession is $715.10 for homeowner occupiers (including the additional $500 payment), $205.40 of home-owner occupiers who are self funded retirees with a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card and $607.60 for tenants (including the additional $500 payment).

To qualify for the concession an applicants income from all sources must be less than $17,152.20 for singles, $18,332.60 for singles with children and $31,496.40 for partners. To be eligible you must live at the property, be listed as an account holder on the energy bill, hold an eligible concession card or receive an eligible Centrelink payment and not be living with anyone who has an income of more than $3,000 per year unless they either get an allowance from Centrelink or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs or they are your spouse, domestic partner or dependent. Eligible cards are Pensioner Concession Card, DVA Gold Card, Low Income Health Care Card, Commonwealth Seniors Health Care Card. Eligible Centrelink payments are  JobSeeker Payment, Widow Allowance, Youth Allowance, Partner Allowance, Parenting Payment, Special Benefit, Community Development Project (CDP), New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS), ABSTUDY, Austudy, Farm Household Allowance (FHA) and War widow pension under legislation of the United Kingdom or New Zealand.

More information on South Australian Government energy concessions is available here.

Support by energy provider

Provider OptionsComments
AGLMore detailsExtended payment terms until 31 July 2020
Monthly instalments
Suspended disconnections until 31 July 2020
Apply online
Alinta EnergyMore detailsAlternate payment options
No disconnections for customers suffering financial hardship
Call 13 37 02
Email customer.service@alintaenergy.com.au
Click EnergyMore detailsFinancial hardship policyCall 1800 77 59 29
Email service@clickenergy.com.au
Dodo Power & GasMore detailsEnergy Assistance ProgramOnline payment extension
Email customercare@dodo.com
Energy LocalsMore detailsAutomatic switch to the cheapest plan available for you
Payment plan
email: hello@energylocals.com.au
Energy AustraliaMore detailsEnergyAssist program
Switch to cheaper plan if available
Payment plans
No late payment fees

Request a payment extension online
Call 1800 558643
Email energyassist@energyaustralia.com.au
Lumo EnergyMore detailsPayment plans
Payment extensions
Call 1300 660 293
Origin EnergyMore detailsPower On program
No disconnection for customers before 31 July 2020
Pause to all late payment fees
Payment extensions
Payment plans
Request a payment extension online
Call 13 24 61

QEnergyMore detailsStaying On - Hardship programCall 1300 698 992
Red EnergyMore detailsPayment plans
Payment extensions
Energy usage advice
Call 1300 171 782
Simply EnergyMore detailsPayment plans
Payment extensions
Energy usage advice
Call 13 88 08

If you are concerned about the financial impact of COVID-19 or you are facing the uncertainty of losing your job or having your income significantly reduced we can help. Sign up to MoneyBrilliant and we will give you access to a host of tools and features to help you organise your finances and make better decisions about your money. We’ll also give you tailored insights about the financial assistance available from governments and businesses to help you face the economic and financial challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can register for MoneyBrilliant online at www.moneybrilliant.com.au or download our app from the App Store or the Play Store.

 

This summary has been prepared by MoneyBrilliant Pty Ltd (AFSL 492711, ACL 493068). The information in this summary is of a factual nature only. We are not suggesting or recommending that you take any particular course of action in relation to any financial product or service. It does not take into account your personal circumstances or objectives. If you need financial advice or taxation advice you should seek advice from a licensed financial adviser or tax agent. You may also be able to access additional information from the websites of the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) and the relevant product providers.

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Peter is the CEO of MoneyBrilliant. He has over 20 years experience in banking, insurance and accounting. Peter has three sons, ranging in age from 16 to 3, is a sport and fitness fanatic and a volunteer firefighter. He is passionate about improving people's lives through making financial services more accessible.

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