On 6 May, the AER lodged with the Australian Energy Market Commission a proposal for an urgent change to the National Electricity Rules to support electricity retailers by allowing them to defer payment of network charges by up to six months in respect of hardship customers or customers on deferred payment plans as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The AER’s Statement of Expectations of Energy Businesses – protecting consumers and the energy market during COVID-19 sets out our expectations that energy businesses go above and beyond existing obligations to support customers in financial stress as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also reflects our concern about the continued viability of energy businesses in the current environment and stated our commitment to working proactively with all stakeholders to balance risks and costs across the energy sector.
The proposed rule will support retailers as they provide payment assistance to customers and will build on the voluntary support measures being provided by network businesses during the April-June quarter under Energy Networks Australia’s Networks Relief Package.
As proposed, the new rule would take effect from 1 July and remain in effect until 31 December 2020.