EnergyAustralia, one of the country’s leading energy retailers, today said its eligible concession-card customers on default or "standing offer" tariffs would receive a 15 per cent discount on their electricity and gas usage.
The ongoing discount will be applied automatically from 1 January 2019 and will mean EnergyAustralia concession customers including pensioners, veterans and healthcare-card holders on default tariffs will save an average $270 a year on their electricity usage and $145 on gas.
This discount is in addition to state government concession payments.
EnergyAustralia Chief Customer Officer Chris Ryan said: "When large power plants in Victoria and South Australia closed on short notice electricity prices spiked. Customers on lower-incomes have been hit hard, especially those on more-expensive default rates.
"Since 2015 we’ve helped more than 200,000 households on standing offers find lower-priced plans. But there’s more to be done. Around 10 per cent of our customers are still on basic, full-price rates and it’s costing them a lot of money.
"We’ll continue to encourage these customers to switch to a better EnergyAustralia deal. As we do that, we’ll provide our concession customers, including pensioners, veterans and healthcare-card holders, who aren’t already on a market offer with a 15 per cent discount – and they don’t need to do anything to get it," Mr Ryan said.
In August EnergyAustralia announced it would make sure customers in its hardship program – those doing it toughest of all – and on default tariffs would receive a rate equivalent to the company’s best generally-available in-market offer.
So far in 2018 EnergyAustralia has committed to invest more than $80 million in initiatives to ease pressure on household energy bills.
Default tariffs are best used as a short-term safety net only, so that no one is left without power while they find a competitive deal. However, EnergyAustralia cannot switch customers to market offers without first getting their consent.
Mr Ryan encouraged EnergyAustralia customers still on default tariffs to move to one of the company’s cheaper market plans. The quickest and simplest way for most people to switch is to go online.
Also, Mr Ryan agreed with the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission that deregulation of the energy system over the past few decades should not only benefit highly engaged customers.
"Customers prepared to spend time finding a better deal should be rewarded. But it is not fair that those who can’t protect themselves are so much worse off," he said. "Some people choose not to shop around – that is their right – while for others it’s just too confusing to compare energy prices across retailers."
EnergyAustralia repeated its calls for urgent action to address the problems of the energy system in Australia.
"It’s not the job of consumers to work out how to fix the energy system," Mr Ryan said. "The ACCC has been crystal clear about what it thinks will make the system fairer and bring prices down. The first step is developing a comparator rate to make it easier for all customers to compare offers across the market. The energy industry is working with governments and regulators to make it happen."
RECENT ENERGYAUSTRALIA CUSTOMER SUPPORT MEASURES INCLUDE:
- Paying $40 million of costs to keep average 2018/19 electricity prices flat for EnergyAustralia customers in New South Wales.
- Investing an additional $10 million in measures to support financially vulnerable customers, including waiving $1.8 million of energy debts for around 1,000 vulnerable customers.
- Ensuring all customers enrolled in the EnergyAustralia hardship program will pay a rate equivalent to the company’s best generally available post-discount price i.e. no EnergyAustralia hardship program customer will pay standing offer tariffs for their electricity or gas.
- Removing fees for paper bills and over-the-counter transactions for all customers in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland.
- Writing in the past year to all EnergyAustralia customers on default rates advising them that there are better offers available.
- Introducing Secure Saver, a product which provides customers with certainty by fixing their electricity and gas rates for two years.
- Becoming one of the first major retailers to ban door-knocking at people’s homes in 2013.