Retailers must notify customers at the end of their deal of other discounted offers before any power plan change

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A showdown between Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and energy chiefs has resulted in agreement to notify customers when before any power plan change.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

Prior to the meeting, the Prime Minister said he wanted to ensure that Australian families do not pay “one extra cent” than they need to on their power bills. 

During the meeting, power bosses said they would notify customers of any changes in “plain English” of any other offers that will be available before contracts run out and there is any power plan change. The meeting was held at Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday morning.

In his letter to power bosses in summoning them to Canberra, the PM said that some families were paying up to $1,500 more than they needed to annually.

No power plan change before customers are told of discount offers

power plan change

Speaking to the media after the meeting, Mr Turnbull said: “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 before making any power plan change.

“This could be included in the next household bill and it would include directing them to the Australian Energy Regulator’s Energy Made Easy comparison website or another objective independent comparison website.”

The PM said companies also agreed to produce fact sheets for customers on terms, late payment penalties and early termination payment.

There will be a follow up meeting later this month on 18 August, where the PM expects to be briefed by retailers about what steps they have taken to ensure that customers are aware of and can access better offers when their power plan changes. It is understood that the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission will also be part of the follow-up process.

“This will ensure that Australian families, thousands of Australian families, hopefully millions of Australian families are better informed [and] will then be paying less for their electricity because they will be on the plan that works best for them,” Mr Turnbull said.

Energy Australia, Momentum Energy, Simply Energy, Alinta Energy, Origin Energy, AGL and Snowy Hydro attended the meeting, together with the Australian Energy Council.

It’s the third time the Prime Minister has hauled energy chiefs to Canberra for a meeting in 12 months.

Before the meeting took place, technology company Wattwatchers raised one possible solution — offering 50 of its real-time energy trackers to each retailer to help customers save money.

The devices help households monitor their energy usage and give advice, such as the best time to use power-hungry appliances and whether installing solar panels could help them.

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