Households in New South Wales struggling to pay increasing energy bills will be able to access up to $1,600 cash a year.
NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean said the payments had been increased to help those experiencing short-term financial hardship with their energy bills.
From Monday, each application through the Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA) program will have its limit increased from $300 to $400, up to a maximum of $1,600 a year.
“Eligible customers can receive payment assistance of up to $400 per application for electricity and up to $400 per application for gas bills twice a year,” Kean said.
“This means the annual maximum limit of vouchers has increased from $1,200 to $1,600 per household.”
The boost to assistance for electricity and gas bills comes as the Australian Energy Regulator released its final determination today, showing NSW energy customers on standing offers will face price increases from July 1.
The price increases are driven primarily by external factors including the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has affected supply and led to global price pressures on coal and gas.
Extreme weather events in NSW and Queensland have also had an impact on prices.
The extra assistance is part of a $330-million-per-year package the NSW government is providing, which also includes energy rebates to around 1 million households.
“With cost-of-living pressures increasing, colder weather arriving and days shortening, we want to make sure households in NSW not only keep the lights on but keep their families safe, warm and comfortable,” Kean said.
Eligible households can also apply for different rebates including the Low Income Household Rebate, Gas Rebate, Family Energy Rebate, and Seniors Energy Rebate.
Around 800,000 households received the Low Income Household Rebate last year and 286,000 received the Gas Rebate.
“I encourage all households to shop around to find the best deal for their energy,” Kean said.
Who is eligible?
To be eligible for EAPA you must:
Have an electricity or natural gas account for a NSW residential address, which is your primary place of residence and the account must be active at the time of your assessment (all other accounts are not eligible)
Be the electricity or natural gas account holder (your account and bill must be in your name)
Be experiencing a short-term financial crisis or emergency that has caused you financial hardship and impacted your ability to pay your current residential energy bill (in part or in full).
Applying for EAPA vouchers involves an eligibility assessment by a NSW government representative or an approved non-government EAPA provider.