Households struggling to pay their energy bills during COVID-19 now have access to additional financial support directly through Service NSW and the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, thanks to a $30 million boost to the Government’s emergency support Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA) Scheme. Energy Minister Matt Kean said the NSW Government is doing everything it can to ease cost-of-living pressures during the COVID-19 pandemic and has more than doubled the budget for the EAPA Scheme next financial year.
“For ease of access, residential energy customers can now apply for EAPA vouchers directly through Service NSW and will be called for an assessment without having to leave their house,” Mr Kean said.
“I encourage people that need bill support during this tough time to head to the Service NSW website and register for an energy voucher assessment.”
The EAPA assessment threshold has been temporarily increased so people can receive up to $400 per assessment twice per year, compared to the normal amount of $300.
“This means the annual maximum limit of vouchers for a household with both electricity and gas has increased from $1,200 to $1,600, up by $400,” Mr Kean said.
“We are expecting more people across NSW to need this emergency bill support as they are faced with unexpected changes to income and usage increases while working from home.”
During the assessment for EAPA vouchers, NSW Government representatives will also contact energy retailers with customers to assist with getting customers onto hardship plans, which will further protect customers during this extraordinarily difficult time.
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the funding for EAPA was part of almost $100 million recently allocated to help our most vulnerable, including $34 million to prevent homelessness, $10 million to support charity programs and $6 million for Lifeline's operations in NSW.
"We are deploying the financial strength of NSW to bolster the health system, keep people in jobs and assist those most in need of help during this difficult time," Mr Perrottet said.
"This funding will help thousands of people meet their energy bills as we head into winter."
People needing further information should visit service.nsw.gov.au and search EAPA.
At the same time, Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders across NSW are being reminded to apply for the Seniors Energy Rebate now.
“With the COVID-19 virus keeping seniors, who are among the most at-risk in our community, confined to their households and using more electricity, we’re very aware of this extra pressure being applied on their back pockets,” Mr Kean said.
“This NSW Government annual rebate, which will ease electricity costs by $200 a year, has been available since July last year but a majority of those eligible are yet to apply, and we’re urging them to do so now before applications for this financial year close.”
The program extends NSW’s generous energy rebates to Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders for the first time.
In 2019-20 over $329 million is being invested by the NSW Government on energy rebates alone, with almost a third of all electricity customers receiving a rebate.
To be eligible, applicants must hold a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC) and be the primary account holder named on the electricity bill.
For more information and to apply online, customers can go to service.nsw.gov.au and type ‘Seniors Energy Rebate’ into the search function.
Customers who are unable to apply online can call Service NSW on 13 77 88. Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders who have already applied this financial year can reapply again from 1 July 2020 for the new financial year.
**************************************** If you're having difficulty paying your household energy bill because of a short-term financial crisis or emergency, such as unexpected medical bills, or reduced income due to COVID-19, you could be eligible for Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA) $50 vouchers. EAPA vouchers are sent electronically to your energy retailer and used to credit your home electricity or gas account. EAPA vouchers can't be used to put your energy account into credit. Applying for EAPA vouchers involves an eligibility assessment. EAPA voucher limits apply and are based on your assessment. You can apply online for EAPA vouchers.
have an electricity or natural gas account for a NSW residential supply address, which is your primary place of residence
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 impacted your ability to pay your residential energy bill(s).
You're not eligible if you:
use liquid petroleum gas (LPG) bottles for your gas supply; however, you may be eligible for gas rebates
are residing in embedded networks (e.g. some strata plans, retirement villages and residential parks).
What you need
a MyServiceNSW Account
2 proof of identity documents – the names on the 2 documents must match and also match the name on the supply address on the electricity or natural gas account
your personal and contact details (name, date of birth, address, email and phone number)
a copy of your current electricity and/or gas bill, which includes your:
first and last name (your account and bill must be in your name)
energy retailer's name
energy account number
National Meter Identifier (NMI) number for electricity bills, or
Delivery Point Identifier (DPI) and Meter Installation Registration Number (MIRN) for gas bills
confirmation that you're on a hardship plan with your retailer (if applicable)
evidence of financial crisis, such as a termination notice or medical expenses (optional).
How to apply
Check the eligibility requirements.
Select the 'Apply online' button.
Log in, or create your MyServiceNSW Account.
Follow the prompts to submit your application.
You can also apply by calling 13 77 88. After applying:
You will receive an email confirming your application.
A NSW Government representative will call you within 10 working days to assess your eligibility for EAPA vouchers. The assessment may involve a 3-way call with your energy retailer, including discussing energy hardship plans and further assistance.
You can also:
Apply to be assessed for EAPA vouchers by calling an approved EAPA provider. You will need to provide a copy of your current energy bill and identification documents and the assessment may involve a 3-way call with your energy retailer. These providers may also help with other support, such as no-interest loans, financial counselling, and clothing or food assistance.
Speak directly with your energy retailer to find out what assistance might be available to you, including different options to pay your bill, switching energy plans or starting a hardship plan.
For ongoing support, see our Cost of Living page for a list of energy rebates and other savings.