Ergon and Energex are backing off power disconnections for householders experiencing hardship due to the ongoing impacts of coronavirus.
Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad said the decision by publicly owned utilities would ensure vulnerable Queenslanders do not face the risk of being left without power.
“Every day the spread of COVID-19 means Queenslanders are facing more disruption to their daily lives,” Ms Trad said.
“Workers who have to self-isolate and lose income as a result should not have to deal with the fear of what will happen if they can’t pay their electricity bills.”
“In light of that, Ergon Energy Retail and Ergon Network have stopped disconnecting power for unpaid bills in regional Queensland for households facing genuine hardship.”
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Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said discussions were underway in the deregulated South East Queensland market finalising similar arrangements for halting power disconnections.
“In SEQ, Energex undertakes disconnections for retailers,” Dr Lynham said.
“Energex has already ceased disconnections for one large retailer and is finalising arrangements with the rest.
“As the response to coronavirus escalates, publicly-owned Ergon and Energex want to minimise the impact on customers in financial difficulty.”
He said households impacted by loss of income had many burdens that they need to work through over the coming months.
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“I encourage those affected to reach out to Ergon or your retailer in SEQ and work with their staff to outline their circumstances and find a solution,” he said.
“It is expected that customers with the capacity to pay continue paying their bills as normal with funds invested in keeping the power stations running and poles and wires connected.
“I point out that these measures have been able to be put in place quickly due to Queensland Government ownership of our energy assets.
“Our publicly-owned energy businesses continue to respond to changing advice and requirements.”
“As I told Parliament yesterday, Queenslanders can be assured that our energy businesses are doing everything they can to maintain safe, reliable electricity supply.”