The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) is introducing short-term, additional protections for households and small businesses impacted by the South Australian lockdown.
The AER recently developed a standby Statement of Expectations for energy retailers in the event jurisdictions are subject to extended stay-at-home orders due to COVID-19.
The standby Statement will apply from 6pm Australian Central Standard Time on Tuesday 20 July 2021 to the areas affected by the South Australian government’s stay-at-home orders. The standby Statement principles will provide additional protections for residential and small business customers until two weeks after the stay-at-home order ends.
The standby Statement expects retailers to:
- Offer all residential and small business consumers who indicate they may be in financial stress a payment plan or hardship arrangement.
- Do not disconnect any residential or small business consumers who may be in financial stress (including residential and small business consumers in an embedded network) without their agreement.
- Defer referrals of residential and small business consumers to debt collection agencies for recovery actions or credit default listing.
The AER is ready to respond by providing the additional protections in other areas that may be impacted by the evolving health events and further stay-at-home orders.
The AER will continue to monitor the rapidly changing situation across all National Energy Customer Framework (NECF) jurisdictions.
The standby Statement of Expectations is applied at the AER’s discretion to NECF jurisdictions - the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia or Tasmania.
Victorian energy consumers come under the separate protections of the Essential Services Commission, while Western Australia and the Northern Territory have their own separate retail energy market regulation.
Consumers can shop around for a better energy deal through the AER’s Energy Made Easy website, which offers a free energy price comparison service for households and small businesses.