Electricity retailers to help Aussie households pay cheaper bills with 'fact sheets'

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Energy efficient house
Ben Cormack stands in the doorway of his home on the Isle of Eigg, Inner Hebrides, Scotland May 27, 2014. Reuters/Paul Hackett

Australians customers will be notified when their discount power plans are about to change after energy retailers agreed to do so in a Canberra meeting with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Wednesday. Companies that supply electricity will send customer notification in “plain English.”

The notification includes alternative offers once their plans end. “The retailers have agreed that they will write to their customers who have reached the end of a discounted plan and outline, in plain English, alternative offers that are available,” Turnbull announced after the meeting at Parliament House.

The move is expected to be part of the next household bill. Customers will be directed to an objective independent comparison website such as the Australian Energy Regulator’s Energy Made Easy comparison website.

Energy companies said they will generate fact sheets for customers so they will have easy access to vital information like terms, late payment penalties and early termination payments. And to ensure Australian customers get the best offers, Turnbull is scheduled for another meeting with these companies along with the ACCC on August 18, news.com.au reports.

The Australian leader said this would ensure that thousands of Australian families are better informed. It may also result to cheaper electricity bill for households across the country as families are on the plan that works best for them.

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said it may cause confusion to customers when their power bills are unclear about whether they can get a better deal or how long discounts lasted. Ahead of the meeting with electricity retailers, he told Nine Network that the government needed to see them do more to lower household power bills. “We’ve got obviously the sword of Damocles there with the choice of regulation if need be but today in the first instance we want to hear from the companies as to what they are doing,” the energy minister said.

Among those who participated in the Wednesday’s meeting are Momentum Energy, Simply Energy, Energy Australia, Origin Energy, AGL and Snowy Hydro. Peak body the Australian Energy Council was also in attendance.

On Tuesday, Turnbull told coalition MPs that energy policy would be one of the government’s main focuses for the rest of 2017. He described energy affordability as a “red hot issue,” and believes people talk about it more than anything else. It was the third time the prime minister had a meeting with energy chiefs in 12 months.

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