Energy companies may face penalties of up to $20,000 for failing to offer assistance to customers in financial hardship.

Under proposed changes from the Essential Services Commission, energy retailers would have to:

• provide assistance that matches the type of payment difficulty a customer is having
• defer debt repayment for up to two years for customers experiencing serious payment difficulties and allow them to stay connected to their power supply on a pay-as-you-go arrangement
• work with customers to help reduce their energy use and access other support

The recommendations come from the Essential Services Commission’s Inquiry into the hardship programs and policies of Victorian energy retailers.

The Inquiry was initiated by the Andrews Labor Government in February 2015, following record disconnection rates under the former Coalition Government.

A copy of the Essential Service Commission’s final report is available at

Quotes attributable to Member for Narre Warren South Judith Couacaud Graley MP

“We know that there are many local families who are struggling to pay their bills and just need a little bit of assistance and understanding,”

“This approach will provide them with a safety net and make it much easier for them to work with their energy retailers to stay connected.”