Each month during the coronavirus pandemic we are reporting on the number of energy customers who are on payment plans and enquiring about assistance with paying bills.
Energy customer support during the coronavirus pandemic
During the coronavirus pandemic, we are regularly requesting data from electricity and gas retailers on the number of energy customers who are:
- on payment plans
- enquiring about assistance with paying bills.
We are providing information about the data we receive on this page.
Data is reported by retailers on a voluntary basis and not audited by us.
Key findings: February 2021
During the week ending 28 February 2021, we received submissions from 21 energy retailers, covering 98 per cent of Victorian electricity customers.
- There were 297 completed electricity and 44 gas disconnection for non-payment between 1 and 28 February 2021 (residential and small-business customers), as reported by nine retailers. We note that in 2021, over two thousand residential customers have been disconnected for non-payment as follows:
- in January 2021, 119 electricity and 13 gas residential customers
- in February 2021, 273 electricity and 44 gas residential customers
- up to 19 March 2021, 1,487 electricity and 72 gas residential customers
- The average number of residential and small business customers who contacted their retailers for assistance peaked in May and had been decreasing until November. There were more residential customers enquiring about assistance in February, compared to the figures in January and similar to the amount of enquires in July 2020.
- The overall number of residential customers receiving tailored assistance has increased in February. We note that:
- the number of customers on tailored assistance who cannot pay for their on-going usage increased in February. The average arrears of these customers is currently at its highest level in February for both electricity and gas.
- the number of customers on tailored assistance who can pay for their on-going usage increased in February after decreasing in January and peaked in mid-October. The average arrears of these customers is also currently at its highest level in February for both electricity and gas.
- The number of small business customers on payment assistance remained stable in February. The average arrears for small business customers in February 2021 decreased and is lower compared to the peak in late November for electricity and gas.
- The number of customers who deferred their payments and their average amount outstanding decreased from the week ending 23 August due to significant decreases by one retailer. The number of residential and small business customers deferring payments and their average amount outstanding have been lower since the peaks in August and September. By the end of February, the number of residential electricity and gas customers deferring payments had both decreased, with gas customers deferring payments the lowest we have seen.
- The number of other residential customers with arrears (excluding those receiving payment assistance and deferrals) in February has decreased and is lower compared to the peak in December. For small business, the monthly average number of customers for electricity and gas decreased in February, with small business gas customers the lowest we have seen. The average arrears for residential and small business continue to be higher than in July but has decreased since December 2020.
- The average number of missed bill payments for electricity residential customers in February 2021 is the highest we have seen, around 1,300 more customers compared to November 2020. The average missed bill payments for gas residential customers increased in February but is lower than its peak in December. For small business, the average number of missed bill payments has been lower since the peaks in May and September.
- Electricity distributors continued the network relief package to retailers, which allows retailers to defer the payment of network charges and payment deferrals during the pandemic. One eligible retailer applied to defer their network charges payments for January 2021 and received total payment deferrals of $4,527 for 96 residential customers and $48 for 1 small business customer.