Electorate Press Releases

 

03
Nov

Napthine Government commits to easing pressure of household energy bills

Press Releases

Victorian households will have greater assurance in managing their household budgets with the Napthine Government today committing to strong reforms to the retail energy code if re-elected.

Minister for Energy and Resources Russell Northe said that under a second-term Coalition Government energy retailers will only be able to back-bill customers as far as six months instead of the current allowable nine-month period, following billing system errors.

“Six months is a reasonable period of time for retailers to source the data they need to get their administrative affairs in order and distribute bills without causing considerable bill shock. A shorter period wouldn’t be feasible and may lead to price increases,” Mr Northe said.

Additionally, the Napthine Government will amend the retail code to ensure that energy contracts can no longer use the often misleading title of ‘fixed term’ unless it includes a fixed price over the full term of the contract.

“We are sympathetic to many Victorians feeling misled and disappointed when they lock themselves into a fixed term energy contract at an agreeable tariff only to find out later the tariff has increased and they are liable to pay the new rates.

“I think it’s fair to say energy contracts are not the easiest documents to understand. To avoid any confusion a re-elected Napthine Government will ban energy retailers using the phrase ‘fixed term’ unless it incorporates a fixed price,” he said.

Member for South Eastern Metropolitan Region Gordon Rich-Phillips said the 2013-14 Victorian Energy and Water Ombudsman’s report clearly showed that the number of Victorians experiencing issues with their energy retail service was soaring, particularly when it came to billing issues.

“I know it can be very stressful for local households that get caught up in billing administrative errors. The reforms that we are committing to today will help provide some assurance that retailers can no longer take for granted the current allowable back-billing period of nine months that can cause bill shock and put huge stresses on household budgets,” Mr Rich-Phillips said.

“This reform will provide relief for Victorian families and will help households to better plan for their energy costs.”

Mr Northe said that unlike the legacy of waste and mismanagement of the former Labor government, the Coalition was committed to reducing cost-of-living pressures and providing Victorians with greater information and tools to help reduce power bills. 
  
“On coming to government, one of the first things we did was to extend electricity concessions to year round,” Mr Northe said.

“We then set about reforming Labor's botched smart meter roll out to focus it on benefits to consumers. In 2013 flexible pricing options were introduced to help save Victorian households as much as $160 per year,” he said.

Under the Coalition Government, the My Power Planner electricity price comparator tool has been introduced. More than 95% of Victorians who used the site found a better deal, with more than half of users who compared offers finding savings of more than $340 a year.

More recently $4.7 million has been committed to upgrade the My Power Planner to include solar and gas offers and announced a review into energy retail margins. 

Media contacts: Cathy Stanislawski / Janet Cummings 9794 7667
cathy.stanislawski@parliament.vic.gov.au
janet.cummings@parliament.vic.gov.au
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