Information for consumers, community advocates and stakeholders

Ombudsman’s message

Janine Young, OmbudsmanThe end of the year and our final newsletter always comes around so quickly – perhaps that’s because so much has happened over the past 12 months. In 2022/2023 we delivered over 80 community engagement events across 50 LGAs in NSW. With the majority of these events including many local and state community organisations, it's not surprising that we saw a 79% increase in community organisation customer referrals. Overall awareness of EWON has also increased with 35% of customers saying they heard about us through EWON promotions. Please continue to refer your clients to us for assistance, we deeply value your working with you us.

FY24 has started with a bang! We received 7,026 complaints in the September quarter, an increase of 58% compared to the June quarter. Increased energy prices and cost of living stress were the major drivers of increased complaints, with 2,436 disputed high bill complaints, up 78%. Complaints about price increases rose 22% and complaints about payment difficulties rose by 21%.

The rental crisis has also added additional stress for many consumers. Young people seeking independent living and families and retirees are struggling to find affordable and energy efficient rental accommodation. Last week at our Consultative Council Meeting, we hosted Joel Dignam, CEO Better Renting and Leo Patterson-Ross, CEO Tenants’ Union. Their presentations calling for Government to introduce minimum standards in all rental properties to reduce energy waste, increase the quality of living, and ensure healthy homes for renters were excellent. You can support their campaign by signing the Healthy Homes for Renters petition.

We’re already planning for next year and looking for new opportunities to work together. Before then, we have the rest of spring to enjoy before we welcome December and the countdown to Christmas.

Janine Young
Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW

Check out our 2-minute video to see what we’ve been up to this year.

Complaint update

In the July to September quarter, EWON received 7,026 complaints, up 58% compared to last quarter. Again, most complaints were about electricity (5,681), with 1,106 complaints gas and 224 regarding water. Billing was the biggest issue with 5,107 complaints, followed by 602 credit complaints and 310 about transfer.

View more complaint data

Small business customers feel the pinch

We received 980 complaints from small business owners last year – that’s a 37% increase from the year before.

Increased energy prices, rent and operating costs are making it harder for small businesses to keep on top of their energy bills.

As a part of NSW Small Business Month we held two online Lunch and Learn sessions presented by our Community Engagement and Dispute Resolution officer, Tamara. She spoke about billing and contracts, disputes about energy retail classification, supply interruptions and more. Check out the webinar on YouTube or look at our Help for small business customers factsheet for more information.

Support for victim survivors of family violence

If you work with clients experiencing family violence, energy providers must provide safe and flexible assistance.

New requirements apply to a wide range of circumstances, including residential and small business customers, and open and closed accounts. The rules cover family relationships, by blood or marriage as well as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander kinship rules and relationships with carers. Read our new family violence factsheet about what retailers are required to do.

Confused by your energy bill?

Whether you receive your bills by snail mail or online, they’re now easier to understand.

The Australian Energy Regulator's Better Bills Guideline was introduced last month ensuring the contact details of ombudsman schemes are visible on the front page of energy bills. Alongside our own work on encouraging EWON members to actively promote internal and external dispute resolution, this will build confidence in member complaint processes and ensure customers are aware of their right to access our service. The guideline also mandates the use of plain, clear language on bills making it easier for customers to understand their charges.

News from the top

Nominations are currently open to be one of the five Community Directors on the EWON Board from December 2023.

EWON is committed to serving NSW’s diverse communities and we encourage nominations from applicants with a range of backgrounds. Applications close Wednesday 22 November 2023, and please share with your networks. 

We warmly welcome Kathy Hourigan from Sydney Water and Kerryn Graham from EnergyAustralia, our two new industry directors, taking the place of Jane Mills and David Stockler who left after serving two terms as industry directors. We recognise their significant contributions to the good governance of EWON and hope they continue their connection with us.

Person setting air conditioner to 24 degrees

Summer’s just around the corner so make sure your air conditioner is set to 24-26°C on hot days. Every degree beyond this can add up to 10% to your cooling costs. For more information see our Saving energy & water around the home factsheet.

Case study

EWON’s community engagement and outreach program is designed to promote our services and educate consumers, small business and community workers about energy and water issues. But it also provides an opportunity for customers to talk to someone from EWON or their provider face to face to resolve issues on the spot.  

Direct retailer assistance 

A customer attending an outreach event told EWON she had received high bills of over $1,600 per quarter for the previous several years. She had been impacted by flooding but was already concerned about high bills prior to that. She had spoken to her retailer over the phone but hadn’t received any update or response. 

We introduced the customer to a representative from her retailer, who was attending the outreach event. The retailer applied a credit of $500 to the customer’s account on the spot and discussed options such as checking whether she was on the best energy plan. The retailer also offered to pay for an electrician to check the customer’s electrical installation to help investigate possible high bill causes, including checking for potential issues caused by the floods. The customer agreed to continue progressing the complaint directly with the retailer in the first instance. EWON advised her that she could contact EWON for further assistance if required. 

Read our latest EWON Insights report for more case studies on our outreach program.

Want to see more from us?

EWON regularly publishes reports and media releases. We’re also releasing a new edition of Spotlight On focusing on the long-term impact of natural disasters on customers, ahead of the predicted bushfire season. Use our publications subscriptions form and select the publications you would like to receive so you don’t miss out.

Our social pages have been getting a lot of love recently. If you want to be a part of it, join us on Facebook, X, Instagram, YouTube or LinkedIn to keep up to date with what we’re doing, where we’re visiting and important industry news.

EWON out and about

We’re looking forward to seeing customers and stakeholders at several upcoming events, including:

  • Ryde community expo, 23/11
  • Koolyangarra Aboriginal Family Day, 29/11

Visit our events page for more information. If you’d like us to attend an event or visit your community organisation, email You can also book us in for a free information session on energy and water affordability programs, rebates and concessions, and tips to save you money on energy or water bills.

We’re taking a break

EWON’s office will be closed from 5pm on Friday 22 December 2023 for the holiday season. We will reopen at 9am on Monday 8 January 2024. Customers can still make a complaint during this time using our online complaint form.  

We wish you a safe holiday period and all the best for the New Year.

Season's greetings