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Right to hardship assistance

Under Victoria’s Payment Difficulty Framework, your energy company must let you know what help is available if you are having trouble paying your energy bills. This includes discussing various flexible payment options and making disconnection a last resort.

To learn more about your right to assistance under Victoria’s nation-leading Payment Difficulty Framework, visit the Essential Services Commission.


Who can I contact if I have a complaint about my retailer or bill?

Step 1: Contact your retailer

Always contact your retailer first unless it is about a power outage (for power outages, contact your distributor). Your retailer is the business that bills you for your electricity or gas use. You can find contact details for your retailer on your energy bill.

Step 2: Contact the Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria

If you have asked your retailer for help but are not satisfied with their response, contact the Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria (EWOV). EWOV is an independent, free dispute resolution service for energy and water issues. It aims to settle problems fairly, independently and as fast as possible. EWOV can help resolve issues so you can manage your bills and keep your energy connected. Visit EWOV or call 1800 500 509 (free call).

If you are having a problem with your energy retailer, distributor or embedded network provider, or feel they may be doing the wrong thing under Victoria’s energy legislation (the law), in addition to contacting EWOV, you can make a complaint through the Essential Services Commission.

For more information, visit the Essential Services Commission or phone 1300 664 969.

Energy Fairness Plan

The Victorian Government has reformed the energy retail market (changes in the law). The reforms increase protections for Victorian energy consumers. They also hold energy retailers to account for not following the rules.

The Energy Fairness Plan benefits Victorians by:

  • making energy retail markets simpler and fairer
  • cutting the cost of energy for Victorian households and small businesses
  • ensuring companies that do the wrong thing face the consequences.

The Energy Fairness Plan reforms build on the commitment to implement all the recommendations from the Review of the Electricity and Gas Retail Markets in Victoria.

The Energy Fairness Plan was announced in 2018. Since then, key reforms delivered include:

  • creating the Victorian Default Offer. A fair price for electricity that replaces costly standing offers
  • requiring retailers to inform customers on their bill of the best offer available from their retailer. This must occur at least once every 3 months for electricity bills and once every 4 months for gas bills
  • requiring retailers to provide simple and clear information about energy plans, including on standardised fact sheets
  • hiring a new Commissioner to the Essential Services Commission to focus on enforcing the laws and taking legal action if laws are not followed
  • moving the electricity and gas network price change date from 1 January to 1 July each year. This takes away the pressure of price increases over the end-of-year holiday period
  • reducing the time retailers can recover undercharged energy consumption from 9 to 4 months
  • monitoring and assessing how competitive and effective the Victorian energy retail market is.

More reforms through the Energy Legislation Amendment (Energy Fairness) Act 2021 include:

  • banning door-to-door sales and cold-calling by energy retailers. This protects households from being pressured into signing up for energy plans that are not suitable for their circumstances
  • banning win-back and save offers by energy retailers. This prevents retailers from only convincing their customers to stay when they intend to switch to another retailer
  • introducing criminal penalties of up to $1 million for:
    • energy retailers or distributors who knowingly provide false or misleading information to the Essential Services Commission
    • energy retailers and electricity and gas sellers (energy sellers exempt from a licence) who wrongfully disconnect customers knowingly or recklessly or disconnect households in a way that endangers customers on life support equipment.
    • Other reforms under the Energy Fairness Plan delivered through the Essential Services Commission (Compliance and Enforcement Powers) Amendment Act 2021 include:
  • an overhaul of the enforcement framework under which the Essential Services Commission operates, with:
    • a new civil penalty framework
    • higher court-ordered penalties available up to a maximum of $10 million
    • a Litigation Fighting Fund to fund legal and enforcement action.
  • strengthening the ESC’s information-gathering and investigatory powers. This includes the power to verbally order witnesses to answer questions from the Essential Services Commission.

Page last updated: 02/07/23