COVID-19, Money

COVID-19: VIC – Helping with energy costs for Victorian residents

Published on March 30, 2020 3:40 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 Victorian 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 Victorian Government’s Energy Compare web site.
  • 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 Victorian Government offers the following concessions and assistance packages:

Annual electricity concession – this concession is available to people who have a Pensioner Concession Card issued by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) or Services Australia, a Health Care Card issued by Services Australia, or DVA Gold Card. The concession is 17.5 per cent of your electricity usage and service costs, but is not applied to the first $171.60 of your annual bill. To apply for this concession you need to contact your energy provider.

Controlled load electricity concession – this concession is available to people who have a Pensioner Concession Card issued by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) or Services Australia, a Health Care Card issued by Services Australia, or DVA Gold Card. The concession is 13 per cent of the controlled load charges on your electricity bill. Controlled load charges are separately metered charges for things like hot water and slab heating. They are usually shown on your bill as ‘controlled load’ or ‘dedicated circuit’ tariffs. To apply for this concession you need to contact your energy provider.

Excess electricity concession – this concession applies to electricity usage and service costs above $2,890.45 per year and is available to people who have a Pensioner Concession Card issued by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) or Services Australia, a Health Care Card issued by Services Australia, or DVA Gold Card. The concession is 17.5 per cent of your electricity usage and service costs. To apply for this concession you need to contact your energy provider. You must sign a declaration confirming that the electricity is used for domestic purposes. If approved the concession will be applied to your next bill.

Excess gas concession – this concession applies to electricity usage and service costs above $1,587.82 for the winter period 1 May to 31 October 2019 and is available to people who have a Pensioner Concession Card issued by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) or Services Australia, a Health Care Card issued by Services Australia, or DVA Gold Card. The concession is 17.5 per cent of your gas usage and service costs. To apply for this concession you need to contact your energy provider. You must sign a declaration confirming that the gas is used for domestic purposes. If approved the concession will be applied to your next bill.

Non-mains energy concession – this concession applies to usage of LPG, firewood, heating oil, electricity accessed via an embedded network and generator fuel costs and is available to people who have a Pensioner Concession Card issued by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) or Services Australia, a Health Care Card issued by Services Australia, or DVA Gold Card. The amount of the concession depends on how much you spend and ranges from $50 for spending between $100 and $288.99 and $561 for spending of $2,637 and above. A separate rebate is paid for each energy type used.  To apply for this concession you need to contact the Victorian Concessions Information Line on 1800 658 521. Applications for each year close on 30 June the following year. Applications must include paid invoices or receipts.

Service to property concession – this concession applies to the service charge on mains domestic electricity bills with very low electricity use and is available to people who have a Pensioner Concession Card issued by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) or Services Australia, a Health Care Card issued by Services Australia, or DVA Gold Card. If the electricity use on a bill is lower than the service charge, the service charge is reduced to the cost of the electricity used.  To apply for this concession you need to contact the Victorian Concessions Information Line on 1800 658 521 or your electricity provider.

Winter gas concession – this concession applies to mains gas usage and service charges and is available to people who have a Pensioner Concession Card issued by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) or Services Australia, a Health Care Card issued by Services Australia, or DVA Gold Card. The concession is 17.5% of your gas usage and service costs but is not applied to the first $62.40 of your winter period bill. To apply for this concession you need to contact your gas provider.

More information on Victorian 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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