Learn about your rights when it comes to estimating and paying energy bills.
Estimating and paying your electricity and gas bills
Gas and electricity bills are sometimes estimated
While gas and electricity bills are generally based on a reading of your meter, sometimes this is not possible and your retailer may issue an estimated bill, based on an estimate of your usage.
They can issue an estimated bill:
- by agreement with you
- when access to your meter is unsafe or hindered
- if the retailer cannot reasonably or reliably base the bill on an actual meter reading
- if your distributor hasn’t provided your retails with meter data.
To ensure your meter can be read, provide safe and unhindered access to your meter so that it can be read and tested.
Estimated bills can be based on:
- a reading you have taken of the meter
- your previous usage data
- the average energy use by a comparable customer (if no historical usage data exists).
If you think an estimated bill is incorrect
If you have concerns about estimated bills, contact your retailer. Retailers must review a bill if you request it.
If you paid too much on an estimated bill, the next bill based on an actual meter reading must be adjusted to take account of any money that was overcharged.
If your bill was underestimated, and you haven’t done anything to prevent access to your meter, your retailer must give you enough time to pay the additional amount (equal to the length of time during which your meter could not be read, up to a maximum of 12 months).
If you are having trouble paying your energy bill
If you are experiencing payment difficulties or think you are likely to have trouble paying your energy, you must contact your energy retailer as soon as possible. Speak to your retailer about your options and any assistance which may be available.
If you are having trouble paying an electricity or gas bill, under the Energy Retail Code, your energy retailer must:
- offer you a payment plan
- give you the right to negotiate a shorter billing cycle
- review your bill at your request (note that a review still requires you to pay some part of the bill).
Review the terms and conditions of any special arrangements you make with your energy retailer.
You may not be eligible for a payment plan if you have:
- had two payment plans cancelled in the previous 12 months due to non-payment
- been convicted of an offence involving the illegal use of energy in the past two years.
Customers anticipating or facing payment difficulty will get new entitlements from 1 January 2019
In late 2017, after working with consumer groups, financial counsellors and the energy industry, we introduced new rules to ensure customers are only disconnected as a last resort. The new rules are designed to ensure customers get equitable and timely assistance from their retailers to help manage their bills.
From 1 January 2019, Victorian customers who are struggling to pay their energy bills will be able to access greater forms of assistance from their energy retailer. This includes different arrangements to pay their energy bills or debt.
More information about these new entitlements can be found at our proposed payment difficulties amendments to the Energy Retail Code.
If you are not satisfied with your retailer’s response, contact the Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria on 1800 500 509.