20 November 2018

TIME IS UP FOR ENERGY RETAILERS RIPPING OFF VICTORIANS

A re-elected Andrews Labor Government will deliver the biggest regulatory shake-up of the energy sector in Victoria’s history by providing stronger punishments for retailers who do the wrong thing and better protections for customers, while extending the Power Saving Bonus to help more customers get a better deal on their energy bills.

This builds on the Labor Government’s work to cut power bills for Victorians, by installing solar panels, batteries or hot water systems on 770,000 houses across the state through the Solar Homes program. The policy, announced in August, has already received around 11,000 applications from Victorian homeowners across the state.

Labor is supporting all 11 recommendations of our Independent Review of the Electricity and Gas Retail Markets in Victoria, which found that intervention was required to make our system fairer for customers and recommended a range of measures to help cut power prices.

We’re also giving Victorians a better deal on their energy bills by legislating a new Victorian Default Offer to cut the cost of power for households and forcing retailers to advise consumers on the best energy offer available to them – but we know there’s more to do.

Wrongful disconnections by big energy companies are consistently a major complaint, particularly for vulnerable Victorians. That’s why we’re introducing tougher penalties to put retailers on notice.

As part of Labor’s Energy Fairness Plan, we’ll double civil penalty notices to $250,000 for retailers who undertake wrongful disconnections, making it the highest fine in the nation.

And we’ll ban ‘win-backs’ – so-called short-term discounts that end up slugging customers more in the long run. We’ll also put an end to retailer’s door-to-door sales and cold calling telemarketers harassing Victorian families.

Right now, energy retailers are able to back bill up to nine months when they have undercharged their customers. Labor will reduce this to four months – so that customers are not forced to pay huge sums simply because their retailer has stuffed up.

Under Labor, criminal penalties for energy retailers who mislead or deceive the Essential Services Commission (ESC), or systematically and wrongfully disconnect households, will increase to $1 million.

Labor’s Energy Fairness Plan will also provide the ESC with clearer investigatory powers, as well as new powers to monitor and report on the competiveness and efficiency of the Victorian retail energy market.

Labor will appoint a fourth Essential Services Commissioner – an energy cop on the beat – whose focus will be on prosecuting misbehaving energy retailers who’ve had it too easy for too long.

A re-elected Labor Government will also help even more Victorians save money on their energy bills by extending our $50 Power Saving Bonus until June 30 2019.

Since the introduction of the scheme in July, more than 220,000 Victorians have claimed the $50 bonus by using the Energy Compare website to find a better deal on their power bills. On average, Victorians who use the independent comparison website save $330 on their bills in the first year alone – with seven out of 10 finding a better deal by switching retail offers.

The Liberals privatised Victoria’s power industry, promising competition would lead to cheaper electricity prices, but the only winners have been the big energy corporations making big profits while Victorians pay higher prices.

Only Labor is delivering reforms to put the power back in the hands of Victorians, and helping families save hundreds of dollars on their electricity bills.

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