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: November 2020
During the week ending 29 November 2020, we received submissions from 19 energy retailers, covering 92 per cent of Victorian electricity customers.
- There were no completed disconnections for non-payment reported by retailers.
- The average number of residential and small business customers who contacted their retailers for assistance peaked in May and had been decreasing until October. In November, the number of customers enquiring about assistance or payment plans increased (but is around half the number of calls during the peak in May).1
- The overall number of residential customers receiving tailored assistance have been stable in recent months. We note that:
- the number of customers who cannot pay for their on-going usage slightly fluctuated in November, after continuously decreasing since April. The average arrears of these customers are the highest at the end of November.
- the number of customers who can pay for their on-going usage slightly fluctuated in November and is currently the highest at the end of the month. The average arrears of these customers are the highest in mid-November.
- The number of small business customers on payment assistance has been stable since the decrease from mid-October. However, the average arrears for electricity and gas small business is currently the highest in November.
- 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. In November, there is a slight increase in the number of residential and small business customers deferring payments. The average amount deferred for gas small business customers increased at the end of September before decreasing from October.
- The number of other residential customers with arrears (excluding those receiving payment assistance and deferrals) has been steady since mid-July. For small business, the average number of customers has been steady over the past five months despite fluctuations in certain weeks. The average arrears for residential and small business continue to be higher than in July.
- The average number of missed bill payments for electricity residential customers is currently the highest in November. The average number of gas missed bill payments for residential customers has decreased in November after the peak in October.
- Electricity distributors continued their network relief package to retailers, which allows retailers to defer the payment of network charges and payment deferrals during the pandemic. Eligible retailers applied to defer their network charges payments for October 2020 and received total payment deferrals of $119,508 for 2,008 residential customers and $4,977 for 23 small business customers.
1The increase in November was also contributed due to one medium retailer started reporting for this indicator again starting from the week ending 29 November. Previously the retailer had a technical issue in its reporting system