If you can't pay your bill, your retailer may be able to help. Call them as soon as possible to find out how.
Get help early to avoid paying extra fees or to stop getting disconnected.
Financial hardship programs
Sometimes things happen in life that make it hard to pay your bills. Call your energy provider and talk to them about your situation. You can also ask a support person to contact your energy provider for you.
Under the National Energy Retail Law, retailers must assist customers that are having payment difficulties.
Your retailer will need to know more about your financial problems before you can use their hardship program.
Your retailer must:
- give you the option of paying your bill in regular, smaller amounts (for example, every 2 weeks) – this is sometimes called a payment plan
- help you work out if you are eligible for any government rebates and/or concessions
- tell you about financial counselling services.
They might also be able to:
- give you more time to pay
- waive late fees
- give you tips on using less energy
- check that your energy plan is right for you.
Our Life can be tough flyer explains the help that is available for customers that are having trouble paying their energy bills. The flyer is also available in other languages.
A payment plan is when you agree to regularly pay back small amounts – for example, every 2 weeks.
You and your retailer will agree on the amount you will pay back each time. You can enter a payment plan even if you are not in your retailer's hardship program.
The retailer will look at:
- how much you owe
- how much your bills might be over the next 12 months
- how much you can afford to pay.
Make sure you can afford the amount you will pay back each time.
Your retailer can't cut off your power if you keep up with your payments, but they can if you don't.
If you don't know where to start, a financial counsellor may be able to help.
Sustainable Payment Plans Framework
The Sustainable Payment Plans Framework is designed to help you and your retailer agree to a payment plan you can afford and that will help you pay the money you owe.
Some retailers have agreed to follow the Sustainable Payments Plan Framework which covers residential customers. These retailers are:
- 1st Energy
- Alinta Energy
- Aurora Energy
- Click Energy
- Discover Energy
- Energy Locals
- Ergon Energy Queensland
- Locality Planning Energy
- Metered Energy Holdings
- Mojo Power
- Origin Energy
- Simply Energy.
Retailers using this framework have promised to be flexible, have respect and to try to understand and consider your circumstances when talking about a payment plan.
If you have a concern with the way a retailer has discussed a payment plan with you, you should speak to them and see if you can fix the problem. If the problem is still not fixed, you can contact your local energy ombudsman.
The framework is attached at the bottom of this page.
If you get a Centrelink payment, you can pay your energy bill directly from your payment. This is called Centrepay.
Ask your retailer or Centrelink if you want to use Centrepay.
If you are in your retailer's hardship program, your retailer must let you pay your bills using Centrepay.
Contact your local energy ombudsman if:
- you disagree with your retailer about your bill and can't solve it with them
- your retailer won't let you use their hardship program
- you can't agree about how to pay the money back.
Their contact details are on our Useful contacts page.
You can get advice from a financial counsellor. Financial counsellors offer a confidential and independent service to help people with financial problems.
Financial counsellors can help you resolve debt issues and give you advice to help you get back on track.
The National Debt Helpline offers free financial counselling. You can contact this service on 1800 007 007 or go to www.ndh.org.au.