Cooling electricity bills down with Energy Affordability Package
Energy affordability. An area where big policy and big ideology meet, making it a modern day political battlefield. While there are big questions that need long term answers, the NSW Government is taking practical steps to alleviate energy costs for households.
A $112 million Energy Affordability Package lessens the burden of electricity costs for everyday New South Welshman in three ways: expanding the rebates available to eligible households or those experiencing hardship, banning certain retailers fees and providing clarity around retailers fees in general and helping Australians transition their appliances to energy saving models.
Electricity. Since being switched on in Tamworth in 1888 – the first settlement in the Southern Hemisphere to change their streetlights from gas to electricity – it’s a resource we have come to depend on at home, at work and in our businesses. The act of flicking a switch for reliable power is as natural to most Australians.
Currently, the cost of this resource is rising. The Nationals and Liberals in Government are committed to alleviating this cost for families and small businesses who feel price rises almost instantly. The $112 million package is aimed squarely at those who are finding their quarterly, monthly or weekly energy bills challenging, or cutting ever deeper into their day-to-day funds.
Launched by Leader of the NSW Nationals and Deputy Premier John Barilaro in Junee, the former small business owner noted the reach the package is anticipated to have.
“We will keep doing what we can to help reduce the stress that rising energy costs are causing households, families and small businesses across regional NSW, he said.
“We expect to be able to help about 10,000 small businesses to access discounts to upgrade inefficient equipment, which could lead to bill savings of up to $1,900 per year.”
Nationals MPs around NSW are encouraging locals to take advantage of the package, highlighting the package’s multi-pronged approach to the problem of rising electricity costs.
Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall has welcomed the reforms, saying it will make life easier for thousands of households struggling with rising power bills across the region.
“Modern life is completely reliant on dependable access to affordable energy – but a confluence of record power prices and lagging income means many households think twice before turning on the heater,” he said.
“With families and businesses across the nation feeling the pinch, the NSW Government has initiated these reforms to bring relief until the energy market stabilises.”
Adam also encouraged small businesses to get in touch with the Department of Planning and Environment to take advantage of discounts when upgrading to energy efficient gear.
“Whether you run a café in Glen Innes or a butchery in Inverell, you could save your business almost $2,000 a year by stacking energy efficiency incentives, which will help improve margins in both the long and short term,” he said.
The practical approach of the Energy Affordability Package can be divided into three streams: rebates, appliances and retailer honesty.
There are five rebate streams available: The Family Energy Rebate, NSW Gas Rebate, Low Income Household Rebate and two which support those with life support or constant medical equipment usage in their households. From 3rd of September, all rebate streams rates have increased.
The Low Income Household Rebate is increasing to $285 for an eligible customer and $314 annually for eligible customers in retirement homes – a 20 per cent jump.
The NSW Gas Rebate will now provide up to $121 annually to eligible customers who use LPG or natural gas in their homes.
One-off payments by way of assistance vouchers for financial difficulties regarding energy bills are available through the Energy Accounts Payment Assistance Scheme. These $50 vouchers are issued through charitable organisations such as the Salvation Army.
Support with transition to more energy efficient appliances at home and at work
All around the State, old appliances gobble up unnecessary electricity. Transitioning to new appliances, especially energy-hungry TVs and fridges can save households hundreds of dollars every year.
New appliances are expensive, which is why the Nationals and Liberals have in place the Appliance Replacement Offer scheme, which saves 40 per cent on eligible fridges and 50 per cent on eligible televisions for Pensioner Concession Card, Health Care Card or Low Income Health Care Card and Veterans Affairs Gold Card holders. Through an online portal, eligible card holders can apply for a for the discount on a range of approved fridges and TVs or call 1300 601 795.
Small businesses are also receiving $30 million in support to upgrade ageing, energy-hungry equipment with details set to be released soon.
Removal of Electricity Retailer Fees
Legal protection for consumers is provided by the NSW Government through the National Energy Customer Framework (NECF). The means consumers can ask for payment plans, disconnection is illegal if the amount owing is less than $300 and a ban late payment fees are prohibited for those receiving low-income assistance.
As of September, a ban on exit fees and a ban on fees for paper bills was announced. If you feel you have been charged an unfair fee, please contact the Energy and Water Ombudsman on 1800 246 545.