AER Statement of Expectations Update

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) continues to monitor and advise the energy industry through the global COVID-19 pandemic, publishing a third Statement of Expectations of energy businesses.

This statement applies from 1 November 2020 to 31 March 2021, and seeks to protect both customers and the energy market from the worst rippling impacts of energy debt.

While the first Statement called on retailers to suspend disconnections for non-payment for residential and small business customers, the second and third Statements reigned in that expectation to apply to residential customers and large businesses who are in contact with their retailer, and small business customers who stick to an agreed payment plan.

Since August, customers who have not contacted their energy retailer can be and have been disconnected for non-payment of energy debt.

However, the AER does expect retailers to waive disconnection and reconnection fees if such a customer seeks reconnection. Further, retailers are asked not to refer debts to debt collection agencies or credit default listings until at least 31 March 2021.

Retailers are also asked to look for customers who may be in vulnerable circumstances, and to work with them to minimise hardship and debt while maintaining the supply of energy.

It is therefore vital that customers do make contact with their electricity and gas retailers if they are unable to pay in full and on time and it’s important to agree to make some payments if this is at all possible. In return, the retailer may be able to offer a cheaper plan, recalculate any debt based on a cheaper plan, and renegotiate payment plans according to need as circumstances change.

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