Many people contact EWOQ because they are having problems paying their bill.
If you are facing disconnection and cannot pay your bill, you should contact your retailer immediately to find out what assistance they can provide to avoid disconnection or restriction. If you wait until you've been disconnected/restricted to contact them, you will probably have to pay a reconnection fee, an increased security deposit and the balance of your bill before reconnection.
Save money on your bill
Many people tend to under estimate their energy usage and are unaware of the amount of energy their home/business appliances actually use.
Energy and water retailer assistance
A payment plan allows you to pay an agreed amount regularly towards your bill. You should only agree to an amount you can realistically afford because if you break the payment plan you could be disconnected and required to pay a reconnection fee, an increased security deposit and the balance of your bill before reconnection.
Your retailer can only refuse a payment plan if you have defaulted on two previous arrangements. If you and your retailer cannot agree on the amount of your payment plan, you can contact EWOQ for assistance.
If you are a Centrelink customer, you can contact your energy retailer to find out if you can set up a Centrepay agreement. Centrepay allows you to nominate an amount that is automatically deducted from your pension or benefit payment into your energy account. By making these automatic payments every fortnight, you will reduce the amount still owing on your account when you receive your energy bill, making it easier to pay.
Contact your energy retailer or Centrelink (External website) to ask about Centrepay.
Financial hardship programs
If you are experiencing extreme difficulty paying a bill due to unforeseen circumstances, such as loss of income or illness, a financial hardship program can help you pay off your debt through an affordable payment plan.
Hardship programs can also help you be more energy or water efficient and reduce costs in the future.
All Queensland energy and water retailers must have financial hardship policies and programs in place. Contact your retailer for more information.
Queensland Government assistance
Electricity and gas rebates are available to eligible pensioners, holders of a Queensland Government Senior Card or Pensioner Concession Card. If you are eligible, your rebate will be credited to your energy account with each bill. Water rebates are available to eligible pensioners in south east Queensland who hold a Pensioner Concession Card or Gold Card. The annual rebate is applied to your account.
If you are entitled to a rebate that you haven't received, your account should be back-dated for the correct period of up to 12 months. The rebate is calculated at a certain rate per day, so your rebate may vary from bill to bill depending on the number of days in the billing period.
Contact your energy or water retailer to apply for a rebate.
The Electricity Life Support Concession Scheme and the Medical Cooling and Heating Concession provide assistance with meeting electricity costs to eligible people. Contact the Department of Communities (External website) for more information.
Dialysis patients in south east Queensland may also be entitled to a water rebate. Contact your water retailer for more information.
Home Energy Emergency Assistance (HEEA)
HEEA is a one-off payment to help people experiencing a crisis or unforeseen emergency and cannot pay their energy bill.
On request, energy retailers will forward an application form to qualifying customers to complete and return in an accompanying reply paid envelope. For more information on the scheme, contact your electricity or gas retailer.
Home Energy Saver Scheme (HESS)
HESS is part of the Australian Government's climate change plan, and is provided through community organisations around Australia that help by offering low-income households experiencing difficulty meeting and paying for their energy needs. Call the HESS Helpline on 1800 007 001 or visit the website.
Farmers who are customers of Ergon Energy may seek relief from electricity charges if they are in a drought declared area or if their property is individually drought declared by the Queensland Government. Call Ergon Energy (External website) on 13 10 46 for more information.
No Interest Loan Scheme
The No Interest Loan Scheme (External website) (NILS) provides interest-free loans for individuals or families on low income. It's a community-based program that enables people to access fair, safe and equitable credit for the purchase of essential household items, for example a new hot water system or fridge to replace an old, inefficient one which is contributing to high energy bills. NILS is not for emergency relief, bond or rent money, living expenses or debt repayment. You can also download the NILS brochure (External website) which provides an overview of the scheme.
Financial counselling services help people who are in financial difficulty. They provide a free, independent and confidential service. They can help you manage a short-term crisis and plan to prevent a future one. Financial counsellors can help you remain independent and take full control of your own financial affairs.
Financial counsellors can:
- help you organise your financial information, design a personal budget and suggest ways to change and improve your financial situation
- assess your eligibility for government assistance
- negotiate with your creditors
- explain debt recovery procedures, bankruptcy and other alternatives, and
- refer you to other services, for example, gambling support, family support, personal counselling or community legal aid.
To find a financial counsellor in your area, contact the Financial Counselling Association of Queensland (External website) on (07) 3321 3192.