The Essential Services Commission’s review into how Victorian energy retailers are implementing the payment difficulty framework

Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on facebook
Facebook

On 31 May 2022, the ESC published its findings of a review into how Victorian energy retailers are implementing the payment difficulty framework. The payment difficulty framework requires retailers to assist Victorians struggling to pay their energy bills. This includes helping consumers stay on top of bills by adjusting payment amounts and frequency, offering payment plans to manage missed bills or ongoing energy usage and providing advice on how to manage energy usage or apply for utility relief grants and concessions. 

The review noted some positive findings. Since the framework came into effect in 2019, more customers have received tailored assistance compared to past retailer hardship programs. More customers are receiving more appropriate assistance, and there have been fewer disconnections for non-payment. But of those customers that were disconnected, over half had not received assistance. The review noted that more work needs to be done by retailers to engage with these customers to break this debt-disconnect cycle.

The review shows that retailers have been implementing the framework to meet its objectives, but customer outcomes vary significantly between and within retailers, often influenced by the level, frequency and quality of retailer-customer engagement. Commissioner Symons noted that in the last two years, two energy retailers have paid penalties of more than $1.5 million combined for alleged non-compliance with the energy payment difficulty framework. In recent times, the commission has increased its powers to investigate and enforce energy retailer compliance with the framework to protect consumers. 

The purpose of the review was to explore how retailers were implementing the framework to meet its objectives. The review covered analysis of stakeholder feedback, retailer data, consumer insights research, and call recordings between retailers and customers receiving payment assistance.

The full report and findings are available here

Below are the key findings (diagrams):

Positive and improved customer outcomes

Negative customer outcomes

More to explorer

Close Up Of Power Cable Charging Electric Car Outdoors In Supermarket Car Park

2022-2023 Compliance and Enforcement Priorities of the AER

The Australian Energy Regulator has published its 2022-2023 Compliance and Enforcement Priorities. The AER will continue to focus its compliance and enforcement activities on how retailers assist customers who are facing financial difficulties and those who are within embedded networks.

Gas stove burner

Who claims and who pays: the administered price cap (APC) compensation process

The APC compensation scheme allows certain entities to claim compensation via AEMO and the AEMC where their total costs exceed their total revenue from the spot market over an eligible period. Entities that may be entitled to claim include scheduled and non-scheduled generators, scheduled network service providers, market participants in respect of a scheduled load, demand response service providers and ancillary service providers.

Live coals

NSW Energy Minister granted emergency powers to direct coal to fuel electricity generators

The NSW Energy Minister, Matt Kean, has been granted emergency powers under the Essential Services Act 1988 to direct coal companies to provide coal to generators. These powers were granted in response to the current energy market crisis.

We haven’t been publishing much about the current energy market crisis as we, like many in the industry, have been in the thick of it. However, from today, we will publish analysis of the regulatory responses of AEMO and state Governments. So, what do the powers allow the Minister to do and do they have any teeth?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.