Customers face energy issues years after bushfires and floods

28 November 2023

As NSW prepares for a major bush fire season, a new report from the Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW (EWON) exposes the long-term issues energy customers face after extreme weather events.  

EWON complaints show targeted support from energy providers reduces prematurely after the initial safety and recovery period is complete. 

Residents and small business owners can experience added trauma due to unresolved energy issues years after their homes and lives were devastated by bushfires and flooding. 

“We’re still taking complaints from customers who lost their homes in the 2019 bushfires who are still receiving estimated bills for a non-existent house,” says Janine Young, Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW. “Flood affected customers whose electricity meters were destroyed in the March 2022 floods are still waiting for meter replacements 18 months later.” 

Every NSW LGA has been impacted by severe bushfires and floods in the past five years. The report’s case studies describe the trauma customers experience trying to manage energy disputes which adds to the ongoing confusion, stress, financial disadvantage, and leading to preventable complaint fatigue. 

Common complaint issues include: 

  • Displaced customers receiving disputed energy bills 
  • Meter replacement delays 
  • Collections activity for unpaid bills 
  • Network and private installation issues 

“Extreme weather events are increasing so regulators, industry and energy providers need to initiate long-term support for impacted customers,” says Ms Young. “Planning needs to be informed by an understanding that the impacts continue for years, and many customers have experienced not one, but multiple events.”

Read the full report including case studies  
To request an interview with the Ombudsman please email Jacqueline Heywood, Communications Officer or call 0426 822 341.