New protections for Vic energy consumers take effect

Lightbulb with money symbol (Sumo Power)

Victorian energy consumers can now sign up to a new energy deal with the assurance that prices won’t increase more than once every 12 months, with new rules taking effect.

The change is one of many energy reforms that begin on July 1 and means retailers can no longer engage in ‘bait and switch’ offers where prices rise after three months.

Other rules in place include a cap on pay on time discounts, limiting what retailers can charge for not making a payment on time.

Essential Services Commission chief executive John Hamill says the rule changes provide further protections to Victorian energy consumers in the challenging environment.

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“With many people working from home energy usage is up and that means bills will likely be higher as people try and stay warm during winter,” he said.

“To ease the pain of bill stress we encourage consumers to shop around for a better offer, with the security of knowing any deal they sign up to won’t change in the near future.”

Retailers can only increase prices once a year, and must maintain any discounts, credits or rebates for the entire length of an energy customer’s contract.

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The Vic state energy regulator also put a cap of 3.62 per cent on any new contracts entered into from July 1, 2020.

Dr Hamill says this could cut the average cost of missing a bill by $40 to $50.

The new rule changes are the latest energy reforms arising from the Victorian Government’s 2017 independent review of electricity and gas retail markets (PDF).

Other protections for consumers include the Payment Difficulty Framework as well as reforms such as the Victorian Default Offer and energy best offer.

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