In recent weeks we’ve all witnessed a perfect storm of cost-of-living pressures, an energy crisis making national headlines combined with electricity prices rising from 1 July. We’re keeping a close eye on our complaints data and expect complaint numbers to increase in coming months as customers receive their first winter bills. In the meantime, we’re reminding customers to proactively shop around for better deals using Energy Made Easy and to contact their retailer to make sure they’re receiving rebates they are eligible for. Now, more than ever, we’re here to help customers in NSW with their energy or water bills.
Our April 2022 Consultative Council Meeting included presentations from Ciara Sterling of Thriving Communities Partnership, Danielle Manley of Endeavour Energy, and Belinda Kallmier of Essential Energy, all of whom focused on the Northern NSW floods. Ciara stressed the importance of prioritising a human-centred approach when responding to major disasters and we kept this front of mind when we recently visited Lismore, where the community is still recovering and showing tremendous resilience as they rebuild and look toward the future. Later this year, we’ll return to Lismore and host a Bring Your Bills Day—timed to assist local residents and small businesses with energy and water issues that are not yet front of mind.
This quarter we also attended the 2022 Financial Counselling Australia (FCA) Conference in Cairns, on beautiful Gimuy-walubarra yidi country. I was privileged to present at the External Dispute Forum about EWON’s role in identifying systemic issues and shared how the valuable work of financial counsellors enables us to address these issues. I look forward to working more closely with financial counsellors in future to continue our shared goal of improving outcomes for customers.
It was with great sadness I heard the news that Maria Hatch, the Manager of Financial Counselling Hunter Valley, passed away this month. Maria worked in the Hunter region for over 30 years and as a tireless advocate helped thousands of customers during her career. It was an honour to see Maria receive the Jan Pentland Prize for outstanding achievement in financial counselling at the FCA Conference in 2019. She will be well remembered at EWON.
As we enter the 2023 financial year, EWON will continue to focus on ensuring we remain fit-for-purpose in a complex energy environment. In August, I will speak at the 2022 SOCAP Symposium about the changing energy landscape and our efforts to remain accessible to energy customers regardless of how they source their energy. I’m already looking forward to what’s sure to be an engaging and illuminating discussion with other key figures from across the industry.
As always, we also continue to work closely with EWON members including Sydney Water and Hunter Water to deliver events that engage with councils, consumers, and community workers and agencies.
Ombudsman and Chief Executive Officer
Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW