AER looks to ensure energy customers put first

The Australian Energy Regulator is assuring the public it will keep electricity providers on a very short leash, promising to rigorously monitor companies to ensure they put customers first in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
AER looks to ensure energy customers put first AER looks to ensure energy customers put first AER looks to ensure energy customers put first AER looks to ensure energy customers put first AER looks to ensure energy customers put first

Will monitor provider’s data

Mark Tilly

Journalist

Mark Tilly
 
Energy News is making some of its most important coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic freely available to readers. For more coverage, please see our COVID-19 hub.
 
In a statement released on Friday, AER said federal and state regulators were keeping an eye on payment plans, hardship, disconnection and credit collection figures. 
 
"When people have lost their jobs or business through no fault of their own, it is only fair to expect that they be given any and all help possible, and that includes from their energy providers," AER chair Clare Savage said. 
 
To that end, the company alongside the Essential Services Commission of Victoria launched a joint effort to collect data from providers.
 
"We are asking retailers to provide more timely information to us about matters such as hardship, payment plans, disconnections and credit collection so we can monitor how customers are being supported during this time," Savage said. 
 
"This information will also give us the ability to respond quickly and appropriately to early warning signs of energy customers experiencing distress."
 
Last month the AER launched its Statement of Expectations of energy businesses, outlining principles retailers in the National Electricity Market should adopt to support residents and small businesses experiencing financial stress.
 
At the same time, the Essential Services Commission outlined the support energy retailers must offer Victorians customers who are facing payment difficulties.
 
"We are pleased to see a positive response from retailers to our Statement of Expectations and access to more timely data will help us see if our expectations are being met," Savage said.
 
Companies including Origin Energy are offering extensions to bills for customers hit by the impact of COVID-19. 
 
"We understand energy bills can cause further stress at this time, particularly for the more vulnerable members of our community," CEO Frank Calabria said last month. 
 
Ms Symons said the full economic impact of the crisis has not yet been felt.
 
"Representatives from the community sector have warned we're in a ‘calm before the storm' when it comes to energy bill stress, predicting calls for help will skyrocket over coming months.
 
Commission chair Kate Symons said the full impacts of the economic fallout have yet to be felt. 
 
"Representatives from the community sector have warned we're in a ‘calm before the storm' when it comes to energy bill stress, predicting calls for help will skyrocket over coming months," she said. 
 
"Having real time data will be important to ensuring we can respond quickly to the needs of energy customers."
 
 
 
 

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