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Ombudsman's message

Janine YoungEWON kicked off the year with a further increase in complaints in the October to December 2023 quarter. We received 7,228 complaints, 62% higher than the same quarter last year. Billing continues to be the key complaint driver, up by 6% which is not surprising given recent energy price increases. We also saw a 7% increase in issues relating to digital meter exchange, a topic explored in our latest issue of EWON Insights.

EWON’s other teams have been equally busy. The Policy & Systemic Issues team have already completed four submissions for the year covering topics from embedded networks to export limits. You can read our submissions here.

Community outreach and engagement has also been high on our agenda. This month, I travelled to Dubbo, Wellington, Trangie and Narromine on Wiradjuri land for EWON Bring Your Bills Days in each town. We partnered with Financial Counselling Australia and involved over 20 participating organisations. We were also joined by several member providers, who showed willingness to resolve issues on the spot, including waiving debt and providing affordable payment arrangements for customers in need of support. Take a look at this video of my chat with Cheryl from Dubbo about the assistance she received at the event.

During the trip we announced our uniform sponsorship of the Narromine Little Athletics Club – this helps to ensure local kids can keep active during the cost of living crisis which has even stronger impacts in regional and rural New South Wales. Seeing the difference this kind of support makes is heartwarming – and from an EWON awareness perspective, very effective. Read more about the trip to Dubbo and surrounds in this newsletter.

It’s with mixed feelings that I share with you that Helen Ford, Deputy Ombudsman will be leaving EWON in May 2024. Initially, Helen will travel overseas and spend time with her UK-based family before coming back to Sydney and taking a gap year; time out to decide what’s next for her career. Helen’s influence and expertise has contributed greatly to EWON’s success.  

Finally, last year I met up with my ombudsman colleagues from other states and schemes to bring things right back to basics and talk about what an ombudsman actually is! Check out the video below to see how we help Australians with their complaints.

All the best for a great 2024.

Janine Young
Ombudsman & Chief Executive Officer
Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW


Complaint update

In the October to December 2023 quarter, EWON received 7,228 complaints, up 62% compared to the same quarter last year. Again, most complaints were about electricity (5,871), with 1,113 complaints gas and 221 regarding water. Billing was the biggest issue with 5,441 complaints, followed by 531 credit complaints and 312 about digital meter exchange.


Graph showing 7228 complaints from October to December 2023, up 62%

View more complaint data


Outreach update

Over 300 residents and small businesses from Dubbo, Wellington, Trangie and Narromine attended our Bring your Bills Days in early February on Wiradjuri land. The region is regularly subject to extreme weather conditions and has the fifth highest number of complaints by population out of all regions in NSW.

Janine Young, Lynda Edwards and Dr June Smith

Janine Young, Lynda Edwards (Financial Counselling Australia) and Dr June Smith (Deputy Chief Ombudsman AFCA)

Locals received help with energy issues, either from EWON or from one of the four energy providers there on the day – Origin Energy, AGL, Red Energy and Essential Energy. Customers were offered affordable payment plans, had rebates applied to their account, received Energy Account Payment Assistance and in some circumstances, part of their debt was waived.

We were joined by other services, including Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, Australian Financial Complaints Authority, Rural Financial, Counselling Service, Catholic Care, UnitingCare, Lifeline, Salvation Army, Global Care No Interest, Loan Scheme, Anti-Discrimination NSW, Mob Strong Debt Help, Revenue NSW, Service NSW, Telstra, ANZ, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac.

EWON’s outreach team has built relationships in Dubbo and the surrounding region over a number of years but partnering with Financial Counselling Australia (FCA) and having the benefit of Lynda Edwards, FCA and her local knowledge and connections was key to the success of our Bring Your Bills Days. If you see a need for EWON to deliver outreach in your area or to deliver an online information session to your organisation please contact us via email community@ewon.com.au.


Energy issues left unresolved years after extreme weather events

Bushfire scene with firefighters

Our latest Spotlight On report, Natural disasters - the long-term customer experience, examines the long-term issues energy customers face after extreme weather events including bushfires and floods.

Residents and small business owners can experience added trauma due to unresolved energy issues often years after their homes and lives were devastated by bushfires and flooding. EWON complaints show targeted support from energy providers reduces prematurely after the initial safety and recovery period is complete. 
In this report we call for the energy industry to address the continuing issues customers face after natural disasters before the next event occurs, and even more customers are left facing long-term barriers accessing essential services.

Read the report


Payment assistance increases for customers

The NSW Government has announced increases to rebate amounts starting 1 July 2024. With energy affordability adding to the strain already generated by the higher cost of living, we welcome the increase in support for families and households.  

Increases include:

  • Low Income Household Rebate and Medical Energy Rebate will increase 23% from $285 to $350.  
  • Family Energy Rebate will increase 39% from $180 to $250 for those receiving the full rate. For those on a partial rate (who also receive the Low Income Household Rebate) the assistance will move from $20 to $30. 
  • Seniors Energy Rebate will increase from 25% from $200 to $250.  
  • The Life Support Rebate will increase 22% for each piece of equipment.

Visit the NSW Government website for more information.


New community director

Jacqueline Crawshaw from Energy Consumers Australia (ECA) has joined the EWON Board as a new Community Director. In her role as Director Policy, Energy Services and Markets at ECA, Jacqueline has valuable experience in consumer advocacy and policy. Her knowledge of the current challenges and opportunities facing consumers in the energy retail sector will be an asset to our Board. We warmly welcome Jacqueline to EWON.


Consumer Data Right expanded in energy retail sector

The number of energy retailers involved in the Consumer Data Right (CDR) increased in November 2023. An additional 15 retailers – with over 10,000 residential or small business customers, have now had their data holder obligations kick in.

The CDR is a consumer data-sharing rule where data holders (retailers) share certain customer data (with customer consent) with accredited recipients ie product comparison apps, to be used for a specific purpose. Being a data holder means an energy retailer must:

  • provide the necessary CDR infrastructure to enable requests to be made for consumer data 
  • securely transfer, with a consumer’s authorisation, a consumer’s data in a machine-readable format when they receive a valid request 
  • manage a consumer’s authorisation to disclose CDR data and any amendment or withdrawal of that authorisation 
  • have a clearly expressed and up-to-date CDR policy about how they manage consumer data.

AGL, Origin Energy and EnergyAustralia had their data holder obligations kick in in November 2022. See here for a list of the 15 new and seven exempt retailers.


Top tip: energy-efficient lighting

Did you know that switching to energy-efficient lighting can help you save energy, as well as money when your next electricity bill arrives!

Traditional incandescent bulbs consume more energy and have a shorter lifespan compared to energy saving alternatives like LED bulbs. By replacing your old bulbs with energy efficient ones, you can reduce your energy consumption and save money in the long run.

Energy efficient light bulbs


Case study: Confusing information prevents meter installation

Monique had solar panels installed in July 2023. She arranged for a smart meter installation through her retailer, which was scheduled for August 2023. She received a text message from the meter technician and an email from the retailer, both indicating that the meter installation had been unsuccessful as the meter box was unsafe. She contacted the retailer and advised that the meter box was replaced only four years ago. The retailer said that its email was incorrect and the issue was actually that the meter box was too small to accommodate the new meter.

Monique told the retailer that there were two meters which would be replaced by only one meter, so it seemed strange that the meter box would not be big enough. After further review, the retailer told her that there was an incorrect meter attached to her house and the network would need to come out and inspect. Monique sent meter photos at the retailer’s request but had to keep following up as she was not getting updates. She often had to explain the whole story again and resend the meter photos.

Monique contacted EWON in early October 2023 as there was still no resolution. The retailer advised EWON that there were two meters at the property but only one was listed in the national electricity database and the retailer’s billing system. Monique had only been billed on one meter. It was unclear how the discrepancy had occurred, but it appeared the second meter was not functional.

The retailer arranged for the network to correct the database based on the meter photos. The new meter was successfully installed on 12 October 2023 and the retailer offered Monique a credit of $250 in recognition of the customer service issues and missed solar credits.



In December 2023 we made a submission to the Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA) Public Consultation Paper on proposed reforms. We provided input to the Energy Social Programs Branch, Office of Energy and Climate Change on key areas related to eligibility criteria, funding challenges, and the overall effectiveness of EAPA in assisting vulnerable energy consumers. 

This year we have completed four submissions. A joint submission with our energy and water ombudsman peers in Queensland, Victoria and South Australia to the Australian Energy Regulator’s (AER) consultation on its interim export limit guidance note. Two submissions on embedded networks to the AER and the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal and a submission to the AER’s draft network determinations. 

Read EWON's submissions here


EWON out and about

People looking at flyers at an information stall

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

Visit our events page for more information. If you’d like us to attend an event or visit your community organisation, email community@ewon.com.au. 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.


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