As an employer delivering critical services to communities across NSW and parts of southern Queensland, our response to the current coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis is focussing on:
- protecting the health and wellbeing of our employees, the community, our contractors and suppliers and their families
- minimising the risk of our workplace being a potential source of infection into the broader community
- maintaining the safety and reliability of the electricity network.
Essential Energy crews will continue to respond to fault and emergency work.
Some planned outages for network maintenance will be delayed as we balance the need for social distancing with the need to maintain a safe and reliable power supply. These include:
- Reviewing all planned work on a case-by-case basis to assess the risks for the community, staff and contractors. Additional controls such as site exclusion zones and extra protective clothing may be required, depending on the nature and location of the work. Some work will be delayed
- Planned work being assessed includes: planned outages, vegetation management, streetlight upgrades, and asset inspections
- Suspending disconnections for non-payment until further notice
- Extending timeframes for customers to have defects on private assets rectified
Employees and site visitors:
- Stopping the movement of employees between depots and offices and, where practical, within offices
- Increasing the use of videoconferencing and telecommunications technologies to limit the number of face-to-face meetings
- Supporting employees, particularly office-based staff, to work from home
- Ensuring all employees who return from overseas self-isolate for 14 days
- Ensuring all employees who develop flu-like symptoms do not come to work
- Stopping all visits by external people (including contractors and consultants) to our sites, unless the visits are absolutely necessary and approval has been obtained
- Suspending all deliveries to depots and offices and investigating options for non-contact delivery
Financial hardship support
Essential Energy has welcomed the commitment across the electricity industry to support households and small businesses in hardship as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues.
Essential Energy, along with other electricity businesses across Australia, have been working with electricity retailers, to confirm a financial support package for residential customers who find themselves in financial hardship during COVID-19.
The package sees:
- Residential customers of small electricity retailers, having their network charges waived by Essential Energy along with further support from their retailer.
- Residential customers of large electricity retailers having their network charges deferred by their retailer, to be paid back after September 2020.
- Small businesses, using less than 40MWh per annum, having their network charges rebated by Essential Energy for the April/May/June quarter.
Residential and small business customers in financial hardship should contact their retailer to discuss their needs, options and eligibility for support. Your retailer’s contact details can be found on your power bill.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if my power supply is interrupted during the COVID-19 situation?
I am self-isolating and there is a planned power outage in my area – can the outage be delayed?
If you are self-isolating and will be affected by a planned outage, please call our Customer Contact Centre on 132080 to discuss your situation. We are assessing risks for planned work on a case-by-case basis and implementing additional controls or delaying work.
Why are Essential Energy crews still working in the community?
We are working to balance the need for social distancing with the need to maintain a safe and reliable power supply. Our crews remain available to respond to fault and emergency work. We are assessing risks for planned work on a case-by-case basis and implementing additional controls or delaying work.
Watch this short video from Energy Networks Australia to learn more about why it’s important for electricity network companies to keeping working to keep the network safe and reliable during the COVID-19 crisis. They've also created this fact sheet with information about planned outages.
I am a Life Support customer – what does this mean for me?
Our obligations in relation to Life Support customers have not changed. See our information for Life Support customers.
I lost my income and can’t pay my bill. What can I do?
Essential Energy recognises that there are members of the community who experience financial stress – we also recognise that electricity is an essential service. Our Customer Policy seeks to minimise disconnections from the network and protect public safety. See our Customer Support Policy page for more information. We also encourage you to contact your energy retailer to discuss your circumstances with them.
What safety protocols do meter readers follow, and why have you recommenced reading meters now, given you previously suspended the practice?
We have developed specific protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic for meter reading to help ensure the safety of our communities and our teams.
Together with our meter reading service provider, we have completed a comprehensive risk assessment and developed appropriate protocols for accessing a customer’s property. Where it is safe to do so, and complies with social distancing requirements, our meter readers will obtain meter readings.
Readings will only be taken when:
- The meter is not located inside a premise, and safe, unhindered access to the meter is available.
- The meter reading can be taken without contact with residents, and the meter reader can maintain a social distance of at least 1.5m at all times.
- The property is not an aged care facility, hospital, childcare centre or similar location which may house vulnerable customers.
How long will meter readers stay on at my premises?
Meter readers are generally at premises for less than two minutes. Readers may spend longer at rural properties as a result of metering points being at the end of via long driveways or behind multiple gates.
Will meter readers need to access inside my house or other parts of my premises?
As part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, meter readers will not read meters that are inside premises during this time.
For customers with industrial/large sites, if you have updated access instructions due to COVID-19, please contact us on 132391 to let us know.
What should I do if I don’t want my meter read?
Please call 132391, select Option 6 and advise the Customer Service Operator that you do not wish to have your meter read.
Please note that not having your meter read will result in an estimated read for your next bill. You may wish to provide a self-read to your retailer, you can read more about meter self-reading here.
My neighbour got a text from you, but I didn’t. How can I register for text notifications?
Please contact your retailer and update your mobile contact number with them. They will then provide this to us. This will ensure your receive SMS messages in future from Essential Energy about power outages and other critical information.
Please note that your retailer provides customer contact details to us.
Can I visit Essential Energy depots, offices and worksites?
No. All Essential Energy depots, offices and worksites are currently closed to external visitors. If you believe you have an urgent need to attend an Essential Energy site, please contact us on 132391 to seek approval.
What if my streetlights go out during the coronavirus situation?
What if I notice trees or bushes growing too close to the electricity network during the coronavirus situation?
- NSW Health Coronavirus (COVID-19) information
- Australian Government Coronavirus (COVID-19) health alert
- World Health Organisation Coronavirus (COVID-19) information
- Healthdirect helpline 1800 022 222 – free health information and advice 24/7 in Australia