Western Australia’s continually expanding relief package follows a call from the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) for the energy industry to consider its customers in this unprecedented situation. The AER set out 10 expectations for energy businesses, some of which the WA Government has heeded, such as the waiving of fees for small businesses, the opening of eligibility parameters for hardship payment plans etc.
Unfortunately, this is only the beginning of the recovery. Western Australian customers of Synergy and Horizon Power are benefiting the most from the State Government’s package, but that is because they are state owned, other private energy businesses around the country still need to step up and replenish their profits in the palms of the people.
“These are unprecedented times for our community and our economy,” said Premier Mark McGowan. “My Government is doing everything it possibly can to support Western Australian businesses who are clearly facing enormous hardship as a result of strict social distancing measures introduced across the nation.”
“We have now invested a total of $1.7 billion to assist businesses and households to cope with the severe impacts of Covid-19,” added Treasurer Ben Wyatt. “The reduction in electricity bills will provide some relief to thousands of businesses.”
For households, this means an expansion of the previously announced Energy Assistance Payment (EAP), doubling the EAP per year to $610 and now eligible to those doing it tough as a result of Covid-19. For instance, if your unemployment is an effect of Covid-19 and you become eligible for a concession card you can get $305 credited directly against your electricity bill (from May 11, 2020).
The WA Government has mandated that no household in the state suffering hardship as a result of the effects of Covid-19 can have their power or water turned off, and moreover, interest will not be charged on deferred bills (for Synergy and Horizon Power customers at least).
Small and medium-sized businesses:
As part of the expanded package, approximately 95,000 small businesses from cafes to beauticians will have their energy bills reduced. Customers of Government-owned Synergy and Horizon Power are also being made eligible for a one-off $2,500 credit *given that they consume less than 50 MWh yearly).
Also, and much like households, no small business enduring financial hardship brought upon by Covid-19 will go without water or electricity due to late payments.
The message is clear. We’re practicing social distancing, not disconnection.
2,800 charities will see their electricity bills reduced and a similar one-off $2,500 credit for charities with Synergy or Horizon Power.
“My heart goes out to those who’ve been forced to close down,” continued McGowan, “as well as Western Australians who’ve found themselves without a job. These additional support measures will assist thousands of businesses and households.”
These are tough times, but there is the hope of sunshine through the clouds, and that hope is quite literal. With many of our electricity bills being put on hold, now is the perfect time to secure a household or business against the catastrophes of a global community by installing solar and energy storage.
Smart Energy is seeing an unprecedented surge in sales and inquiries of solar and home storage in these uncertain times. Customers don’t want to feel this uncertain again if they don’t have to, they don’t want to have to worry about their electricity bills or whether their government or their provider is decent enough to cut them some slack.
In uncertain times we are called to remember one certainty – the sun also rises, so why not make it work for you.