When NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian took to the podium earlier this year to announce a $200 electricity rebate for self-funded retirees, she also let it be known her government invests at least $300 million each year on energy allowances for those on fixed incomes.
While this barely raised any eyebrows among those struggling to contend with high cost of living pressures, what proved most surprising was energy minister Don Harwin’s assertion that almost one third of all electricity customers in the state now receive a rebate.
Yet whether they’re aware of it or not, it’s not just those who live under Ms Berejiklian’s jurisdiction who are able to take advantage of energy concessions.
While the rebates vary from state to state, most states offer a Medical Cooling Concession which provides a discount of around 17.5% on electricity bills between 1 November to 30 April each year for eligible applicants. It also provides a winter equivalent that offers a similar discount off their gas usage and daily supply charges during the 1 May to 31 October period.
Most states also offer a Life Support Concession which provides a discount equivalent up to the value of around 1,880 kilowatt hours of electricity per annum for eligible life support machines.
In Victoria energy concessions are administered on behalf of the Department of Human Services to customers holding an eligible Centrelink Pensioner Concession Card, Centrelink Health, Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card For All Conditions, Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card, Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card (EDA), Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card (War Widow) or Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card (POW).
Potential electricity concessions available to customers include the Annual Electricity Concession (equal to 17.5% off their electricity usage and daily supply charges for the year) and the Off-Peak Concession which provides a 13% reduction on off-peak electricity charges.
The story is similar with Queensland low and fixed income earners – including those on the Pensioner Concession Card Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card, Queensland Seniors Card, Commonwealth Health Care Car or those with Asylum seeker status – who are eligible for an Electricity Rebate of up to $340.85 per year and a Reticulated Natural Gas Rebate of up to $73.60 per year.
There is also a Home Energy Emergency Assistance Scheme which is a one-off emergency payment of up to $720 every two years for Queensland households experiencing problems paying their energy bills.
In South Australia, eligible South Australians on low or fixed incomes, including verified asylum seekers, pensions, those who have a Low Income Health Care Card, a Commonwealth Seniors Health Care Card or a DVA Gold Card, can apply for help with the cost of energy bills through the Energy Bill Concession which offers up to $226.67 to cover both electricity and gas payments including LPG bottle gas.
Energy concession customers are eligible for the SA Concession Energy Discount Offer (SACEDO). Concession customers can choose to take up this offer, which is available in addition to the energy concession.
The SACEDO includes a guaranteed ongoing 20% off electricity usage and supply charges, flexible payment options and no late payment, processing, paper bill, credit card or exit fees.
South Australian customers can apply for assistance from the Emergency Electricity Payment Scheme but will first need to have their situation assessed by a financial councillor. The payment of up to $400 is provided to low-income households who have been disconnected or are at risk of disconnection. Applicants are entitled to apply for an emergency electricity payment once every three years.
In New South Wales, eligible concession card holders are offered assistance paying their electricity bills via the Low Income Household Rebate which works as a credit on each quarterly energy bill, up to a total of $285.00 per year. In addition there is also a Family Energy Rebate which helps eligible households pay their electricity bill if they have dependent children and received the Family Tax Benefit payment from the Commonwealth Department of Human Services.
Independent retirees who hold a valid Commonwealth Seniors Health Card can also apply for the Seniors Energy Rebate. This rebate provides eligible households with a $200 rebate, per year, to help with the cost of living. The rebate is for independent self-funded retirees only.
Assistance is also available through the Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA) scheme which results in a $50 voucher being sent electronically to your retailer and credited into your account.
The federal government automatically applies a quarterly Utilities Allowance to help with household bills to those who receive the Disability Support Pension and are younger than 21 with no dependent children.
If there are savings to be made, it would be wise to take advantage of these and keep your money in your own pocket.