Vic energy consumers free to bail whenever, at no cost

Victoria Minister for Energy Lily D’Ambrosio

Victoria Minister for Energy Lily D’Ambrosio

The Victorian government today announced legislation to allow energy consumers no-cost exits from their electricity and gas contracts.

Minister for Energy Lily D’Ambrosio confirmed in a statement changes to the Electricity Industry Act 2000, Gas Industry Act 2001 and the Essential Services Commission Act 2001.

The changes, which take effect immediately, include a ban on all early exit fees for fixed-term electricity and gas payment plans “where the retailer increases the price.”

The new laws allow customers to abandon their contracted commitment to the power company – at no cost – if prices increase.

The government also announced greater powers for the Essential Services Commission (ESC) to enforce the changes. Those enforcement powers include the ability for the ESC to impose a $20,000 penalty if an energy retailer breaches its licence obligations.

The watchdog will also be able to impose a $5,000 penalty on companies for each breach of the Energy Retail Code that has led to a wrongful disconnection.

Energy retailers will also have to provide annual compliance and enforcement reports to the ESC in what is being touted as an effort that will “allow households to make more informed choice about their energy retailer.”

“These changes will provide greater fairness, certainty and security for families when it comes to their energy bills,” D’Ambrosio said.

“The previous Liberal Government left households struggling, with energy disconnections soaring and wrongful disconnections doubling.

“We’re putting the interests of Victorians at the front and centre of our energy retail policy.”

Eddie Morton is the associate editor of Gas Today: emorton@gs-press.com.au

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