A review of the hardship practices of energy companies announced by the Andrews Government today will be an important opportunity to improve protections for Victorians who are struggling to meet spiralling electricity and gas costs, says the Victorian Council of Social Service.
“Victorians are being disconnected from their energy supplies at alarming rates and numerous reports have shown that retailers need to do more to ensure people are not wrongfully disconnected or treated unfairly,” said Mary Sayers, Deputy CEO of VCOSS.
“The review, to be conducted by Essential Services Commission, will examine whether the current regulatory system gives customers the right support and assistance to help them avoid having their supply disconnected and whether hardship programs that retailers are required to offer are performing adequately.”
“The review announced today by Minister for Energy, Lily D’Ambrosio, will also examine the regulator’s ability to monitor and enforce compliance with Victoria’s customer protection framework.”
“The review will seek a better explanation of how and why disconnections are occurring and will examine ways to better protect at-risk consumers from disconnection – including through early identification of those at risk of disconnection. Importantly, the review will also consider whether reducing energy consumption can assist households at risk.”
“In recent years Victoria has seen significant increases in the number of people who are experiencing energy hardship and energy retailers have a poor track record when it comes to wrongfully disconnecting people from their energy supply.”
“Since 2010 the rate of wrongful disconnections of Victorian energy customers has increased six-fold, providing firm evidence that too many energy retailers have taken a harsh and punitive approach to the supply of what are essential services.”
“VCOSS congratulates the State Government for putting people first and we look forward working with them to put the rights of energy consumers at the forefront of how we determine energy policy in Victoria.”