SA Power Networks move supports SA Community

3 months ago

RELIEF PACKAGE ANNOUNCED

SA Power Networks has revealed a suite of measures to provide support to South Australians enduring hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The relief package is effective from 1 April 2020 and will be delivered via retailers.

SA Power Networks CEO Rob Stobbe said the initial package could provide about $10 million in relief for local businesses and residential customers. “These are extraordinarily tough times for all South Australians,” he said.

“We will provide immediate tariff relief through the retailer for up to 80,000 small businesses using up to 40 MWh per annum who between April and the end of June consume less than 25% of their usual consumption for that three month period. We also will support a number of small retailers who are working hard to sustain their most vulnerable residential customers on hardship programs.

“This will support those customers who are doing it tough and help support continued retail competition. We also will defer network charges for residential customers of the larger retailers who go on hardship arrangements as a result of COVID-19,” Mr Stobbe said.

“The initiative reflects the comprehensive and co-operative way that the industry has sought to respond to this unprecedented situation. Networks will work with energy retailers to ensure the benefits of this package are passed on to customers smoothly.”

Meanwhile, Mr Stobbe said SA Power Networks was working hard to balance its responsibility to help minimise the spread of the coronavirus in South Australia and continue to deliver essential electricity distribution services.

“We continue to take advice from medical experts to shape how we manage our operations so we can safely deliver services to our customers during this time,” he said.

“We have instructed our people who are in the field working on our physical assets and other customer-facing staff to observe appropriate social distancing and hygiene protocols to safely manage interactions with customers.

“We will continue to undertake planned work, as it is critical to maintaining a reliable electricity network. However, we are reviewing the work we do and how we communicate with customers so we can minimise the impact of associated power interruptions,” Mr Stobbe said.

“If we need to adjust or change things we will, but safety of our people and helping our community get through this pandemic are our priorities.”

SA Power Networks support for electricity customers.

1. Small Business Customers: full tariff relief

Network charges will be rebated for small business customers experiencing financial stress and who are temporarily hibernating as a result of COVID-19. Relief will apply to all small business customers who:

  • Are temporarily hibernating over the period of 1 April to 30 June 2020 as a result of COVID-19
  • Eligible small business customers are those that consume less than 40MWh per annum (based on 2019 consumption) and use less than 25% of their historical average consumption for the April-June period
  • This will apply for customer network charges from 1 April to 30 June 2020
  • Rebating of retailer payments will be processed by networks in arrears of monthly invoicing, with networks providing a rebate of the relevant network charges by the end of September 2020 for the period from 1 April to 30 June 2020 following receipt of supporting evidence by 1 September 2020.

2. Small Retailers: Residential rebates

For small retailers, network charges will be rebated to retailers for residential customers that go into default as a result of COVID-19. Relief will apply for residential customers who:

  • Are existing customers with retailers (excluding noted large retailers) as at 1 April 2020
  • Are receiving relevant government benefits as from 1 April 2020 (and were not before 1 March 2020)
  • Are in payment default/arrears and this was not the case as at 1 March 2020
  • Residential customers are those that are currently on a residential tariff
  • This will apply for customer network charges from 1 April to 30 June 2020
    • Network charges cover electricity transmission, electricity distribution, metering and jurisdictional charges
  • Rebating of payments to retailers will be processed by networks in arrears of monthly invoicing, with networks providing a rebate of the relevant network charges by the end of September 2020 for the period from 1 April to 30 June 2020 following receipt from retailers of supporting evidence by 1 September 2020.

3. Large Retailers: Payment Plan incentives

Retailer Network charges will be deferred for residential customers of large retailers who go on payment plans or hardship arrangements put in place as a result of COVID-19. Relief will apply to large retailers for residential customers of large retailers who:

  • Are existing customers with large retailers as at 1 April 2020
  • Are receiving relevant government benefits as from 1 April 2020 (and were not before 1 March 2020)
  • Are on some form of payment plan/hardship arrangement and this was not the case as at 1 March 2020
  • This will apply for customer network charges from 1 April to 30 June 2020
    • Network charges cover electricity transmission, electricity distribution, metering and jurisdictional charges
  • Deferred payment will be processed by the networks in arrears of monthly invoicing, subject to the retailers providing supporting evidence. The retailers will make all deferred payments under the Relief Package in full on or before 30 September 2020

4. Other help for customers

We will commit to our customers that we will adhere to the principles set out by the AER:

  • We will support retailers in not disconnecting any residential or small business customers who may be in financial stress, without their agreement, before 31 July 2020 and potentially beyond
  • We will support retailers in not disconnecting any large business customer, without their agreement, before 31 July 2020, and potentially beyond, if that customer is on-selling energy to residential or small business customers (for example, in residential parks or retirement villages)
  • We will waive disconnection and/or reconnection fees for small businesses that have temporarily ceased operation
    • During this period of disconnection, small businesses will not pay the daily supply charges
  • We will continue to prioritise the safety of customers who require life support equipment and continue to meet responsibilities to new life support customers
  • We will seek to minimise the frequency and duration of planned outages for critical works, and provide as much notice as possible to assist households and businesses to manage during any associated outage.
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