Message from the chair, data probe to track coronavirus impact, and more ...
Essential News: May 2020
Welcome to Essential News, our regular update on key decisions, releases and events from the Essential Services Commission.
 

Challenging times - a message from the chair

The past few months have been extraordinary in so many ways. The coronavirus pandemic has presented massive challenges for all of us on a personal, professional and community level and the full extent of the changes this will bring won’t be known for some time.

Over these weeks we have been working hard to connect with the community and regulated businesses to understand the impact of coronavirus in the immediate and the medium term. It has been so pleasing to me to see those in the community and help sector as well as many in regulated businesses who have been prepared to roll up the sleeves and focus on doing what’s right for consumers.

As a regulator, we will continue to communicate and work with regulated businesses and community agencies for the benefit of the wider community. For now, I would like to thank everyone in those agencies and businesses who have reached out, participated in forums or provided information and assistance so we can continue to work together for the benefit of all Victorians.

If you haven’t already, make sure you follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook and subscribe to our newsletters to stay in touch with the latest announcements.

A woman's hand turning off a light switch
 

Data probe to track impact of coronavirus

The commission is working with the federal energy regulator to collect timely data on disconnections, payment difficulties and other indicators to track the impact of coronavirus on consumers.

This joint effort will help us ensure our regulatory activities are effectively targeting areas of need. In April we also announced changes to our annual energy audit program to ensure we are keeping a close eye on how energy retailers support customers at this difficult time.

Find out more →

 

Help is available

Help is available for energy and water customers who are concerned about paying their bills. 

Energy retailers and water businesses are obligated under our codes and guidelines to support customers who are pacing payment difficulties.

Find out more about your rights as an energy customer or water customer.

 

Cost of missing an energy bill slashed

From 1 July, households and small businesses will no longer face big penalties for missing an energy bill.

We have capped what retailers can charge for not making a payment on time. The 3.62 per cent cap on new energy contracts entered into from 1 July 2020 slashes the potential cost of missing a payment in half.

Find out more about our work to make energy contracts clear and fair →

 

Have your say on energy proposals

We are currently consulting on:

We are also planning a review to ensure timely power connections for new developments.

Understanding the impact of the pandemic

Since early April, we have held a series of roundtable discussions with community and industry representatives to understand the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Victorian consumers.

Community support and consumer advocacy groups have identified emerging issues at sessions on 9 April, 30 April and 21 May, while energy industry representatives confirmed a big increase in households and businesses seeking help with bills during a discussion on 22 April.

 

Trust in Victorian water businesses improving

Victoria’s water businesses have improved their standing in the eyes of customers, according to our latest customer survey.

The survey showed trust and overall satisfaction in the sector at an all-time survey high of 6.7 and 6.8 respectively out of 10 in March 2020. These are well above levels recorded a year earlier.

Read the survey results →

 

Amaysim pays $600,000 for alleged sales agent fraud

Amaysim Energy (also trading as Click Energy) has paid penalties totalling $600,000, after a sales agent allegedly faked customer details to sign them up without their consent.

We issued 30 penalty notices to Amaysim Energy after a sales agent allegedly entered 19 customer’s details into an online form without their permission, to sign them onto new energy contracts.

Find out more →