12 July 2020
The coronavirus pandemic has affected households across Australia. Many people have lost income and could be experiencing financial stress. If you're having trouble paying your energy bills, speak with your retailer about a payment plan or other assistance.
Payment plans are one way energy retailers can help customers experiencing financial difficulties to better manage their energy bills. These plans involve paying smaller amounts more often.
By law, energy retailers must offer to set up payment plans for their residential customers who are having trouble paying their bills. When setting up these plans, retailers must take into account the customer's capacity to pay, any amount they owe, and how much energy they expect to use over the next year.
Talking about these issues can be hard, for both customers and retailers. So the AER worked with a range of stakeholders to develop a good practice framework for retailers assessing their customers' capacity to pay and for having these conversations. This is called the Sustainable Payment Plans Framework.
This is a voluntary framework that aims to improve the quality of the conversations retailers have with their customers about payment plans and to encourage them to offer extra assistance to customers experiencing financial difficulty. Ultimately, we want to ensure customers and retailers can reach agreement on a payment plan that is affordable and sustainable.
More than 20 retailers have signed up to the Framework. To see the full list, go to our Having trouble paying your bills? page.
Importantly, even if your energy retailer hasn't adopted the Sustainable Payment Plans Framework, they are still obligated to help you if you're having difficulties paying your bills, and particularly during this global health crisis. So if you're facing financial difficulties, call them and discuss your situation to see how they can help you.