At one time or another you might have trouble paying your energy bill. If you need help staying on top of your energy bills, contact your retailer as soon as possible.
Getting help early can mean you avoid paying extra fees, getting into debt, and the risk of being disconnected.
Under the National Energy Retail Law, retailers must assist customers that are having payment difficulties.
Contact your retailer and let them know you’re having trouble paying your bill.
Your retailer will give you information about different payment options and the availability of government assistance e.g. concession or relief schemes.
Our factsheet explains the help that is available for customers that are having trouble paying their energy bills.
Your retailer must offer you the option of paying your bill with a payment plan. This could be bill smoothing, where you pay smaller amounts more often (instalments).
Retailers must take into account what you can afford to pay, how much you owe, and the amount of energy you are likely to use over the coming year.
It is important that you agree to a payment plan that you can afford. If you don’t meet the conditions of your payment plan twice in a year, your retailer is not required to offer you a new payment plan – this may put you at risk of getting into debt and being disconnected.
If you cannot agree with your retailer on a manageable payment plan, you can contact the energy ombudsman in your area for further assistance.
See 'Making a complaint' for the contact details of the energy ombudsman scheme in your state or territory.
If you receive Centrelink benefits, ask your retailer about Centrepay.
Centrepay is a payment arrangement that allows you to give Centrelink permission to deduct regular energy bill payments directly from your Centrelink payment before you get it and send it to the businesses you want to pay.
Retailers must provide additional help to customers that are having trouble paying their energy bills due to hardship.
The assistance available is set out in their customer hardship policies.
The AER worked collaboratively with a range of stakeholders to develop the Sustainable Payment Plans Framework.
The Framework helps residential customers and retailers agree to payment plans that are sustainable and affordable.
The Framework consists of:
- a set of principles that should guide retailers' capacity to pay conversations with customers
- good practice actions and considerations retailers should follow at different stages of a payment plan, including:
- determining the customer's capacity to pay,
- reviewing the payment plan,
- helping customers in severe financial difficulty,
- dealing with missed payments and
- completing a payment plan.
The Framework has been adopted by the following retailers:
- 1st Energy
- Alinta Energy
- Aurora Energy
- Click Energy
- Energy Locals
- Enova Energy
- Ergon Energy Queensland
- Locality Planning Energy
- Metered Energy Holdings
- Mojo Power
- Origin Energy
- People Energy
- Pooled Energy
- Simply Energy
If you have a complaint about how your retailer has handled your payment plan discussions, you can contact your energy ombudsman for further assistance.
Disconnection of your energy must be a last resort option for your retailer.
There are rules on what a retailer must do before disconnection, including providing you with a reminder and a disconnection warning notice.
If you are disconnected, you may have to pay a reconnection fee. Some retailers may also require you to pay a security deposit.
More information on 'Energy disconnections'.