Business highlights & milestones to 30 June 2020:
- First-half results down but EnergyAustralia continues to invest in customer support
- New Rapid Business Assist program launched alongside broadened EnergyAssist program for residential customers
- Investments in Australia’s energy future continue through a Binding Energy Storage Agreement to underpin the 250-MW Kidston project in Queensland and 30-MW gas expansion of Hallett plant in South Australia
- On track to take final investment decision later in 2020 for 300-400-MW expansion of existing Tallawarra gas-fired power station
- Our people, business and owner CLP donated more than $300,000 to local communities, agencies and charities in areas heavily impacted by bushfires.
EnergyAustralia, one of the country’s leading energy retailers, today reported its underlying earnings fell in the first half of 2020 due to difficult trading conditions, but the business was continuing to invest in helping its customers manage an extremely challenging immediate future.
The retailer’s earnings before interest, tax and fair value adjustments were down 20 per cent to $252 million in the six months ended 30 June 2020 compared to the same period a year ago. Price re-regulation, intense competition for retail customers and lower wholesale power prices had the largest bearing on financial performance. The company’s corporate tax for the first half was $89 million.
EnergyAustralia Managing Director Catherine Tanna said: “It has been a cruel and challenging year for Australia, and I know many of our customers have struggled. While EnergyAustralia’s underlying performance has deteriorated, we’ve prioritised investing in getting the most support to those most in need.
“EnergyAustralia now has the most comprehensive and accessible customer assistance program we’ve ever had. If anyone is struggling with a power bill, please – don’t let the issue build up. Get in touch. While a customer is participating in our hardship program their lights will always stay on with our stay-connected guarantee.”
With customer budgets under pressure from COVID-19 impacts, EnergyAustralia expanded its hardship support for households and in May launched Rapid Business Assist, a new program for small businesses. Since March EnergyAustralia has responded to a 70 per cent increase in average daily calls from people in hardship. It has set up nearly 14 per cent more payment arrangements for household customers than normal. For businesses, the number is 33 per cent higher.
In July EnergyAustralia announced average electricity rates would fall in 2020/21 for its residential and business customers in New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory, reflecting lower wholesale electricity prices.
Meanwhile, EnergyAustralia continued to invest in the modernisation of Australia’s energy system. Milestones included regulatory approval for an expansion of the Tallawarra gas-fired power station in New South Wales and commissioning a new 30-megawatt (MW) turbine at the Hallett power station in South Australia. The 250,000th customer was signed to Go Neutral, the company’s opt-in carbon offset program for households.
Operationally, the company’s largest power station, the Yallourn plant in Victoria, performed well, recording 100 per cent availability on the five hottest days of summer 2019/20.
Managing Director Catherine Tanna said EnergyAustralia would continue to face challenging market conditions as COVID-19 impacts the economy. She said EnergyAustralia would continue to prioritise providing assistance to customers, pressing ahead with major maintenance and upgrade projects at the Yallourn and Mt Piper power stations and assessing more than 1000 MW of new gas-fired generation options, including the proposed expansion of the Tallawarra plant.