Consumer protections switched on for power customers in lockdown

Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen and Minister for Public Works and Procurement The Honourable Mick de Brenni

Power connection protections have been reintroduced to shield Queensland’s most vulnerable households from having their power disconnected during lockdown.

Energy Minister Mick de Brenni said the Australian Energy Regulator has agreed to reintroduce consumer protections that saved thousands of households and small businesses from having their power disconnected or referred to debt collectors during the pandemic.

“Today the switch has been turned back on to important consumer protections, designed to protect Queensland’s most vulnerable households,” Mr de Brenni said.

“They mean they won’t have their power turned off, and they won’t be referred to debt collectors.

“There is real pain out there.

“Figures show that 13,000 Queensland families are severely impacted by COVID-19 and in electricity debt.

“That’s why the re-introduction of important consumer protections that have saved thousands of households and small businesses from having their power disconnected through the pandemic is so important.

“We know they worked.

“In 2020, disconnections dropped dramatically, down 91% since the start of the pandemic.

“They ended on June 30 thanks to Queensland’s strong economic recovery.

“But with the Delta variant forcing this lockdown extension, consumers need those protections again.

“So they are back.”

Mr de Brenni said the Palaszczuk Government was doing what it could as part of its Unite and Recover economic recovery plan.

The Palaszczuk Government will also provide $5,000 payments to small and medium businesses across Queensland affected by the current COVID-19 lockdown and lockdowns in other states.

The $260 million 2021 COVID-19 Business Support Grant program will help small businesses through the current lockdown.

Sole traders will also be eligible to access disaster payments.

“We are going hard and going fast with this lockdown but taking care of workers and businesses at the same time,” Mr de Brenni said.

Under a framework administered by the Australian Energy Regulator’s standby Statement of Expectations of energy businesses, residential and small business energy customers in Queensland’s lockdown areas will be protected from having their power disconnected or being referred to debt collection agencies and will be offered a payment plan or hardship arrangement.

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