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The Queensland Consumers Association says householders experiencing difficulty paying high power bills caused by keeping cool during the sweltering summer should contact their power retailer as soon as possible.

Association spokesperson, Ian Jarratt, says many power bills received, or those yet to arrive, will be well above normal due to the use of power guzzling air conditioners to keep cool while the mercury soared and humidity levels were very high.

These high bills may be difficult for some consumers to pay in full on time and this can have very negative consequences if they do not take early action to address the problem.

The negative consequences include:

  • possible eventual disconnection
  • likely loss of discounts and late payment fee charges (only in south east Queensland with market contracts)
  • possible lower credit rating.

So, it is vital that consumers having difficulty paying power bills in full on time contact their power retailer early about their situation, rights and available assistance.

However, before contacting their power retailer consumers should:

  • be aware that the retailer is generally required to offer a payment plan and when doing so must consider capacity to pay
  • work out how much they can afford to pay now and on an on-going basis
  • consider getting assistance with contacting the retailer from a trusted person such as a family member, a financial counsellor, or a community worker.

It’s also important to ask the retailer, if you are eligible for a Queensland government concession, qualify for emergency assistance, or can go onto a better contract.

Also, ask if your retailer has, and you can get help from, a team dedicated to assisting people like you to get on top of things again.

Before agreeing to a payment plan make sure that it is achievable and takes full account of your income and other expenses, otherwise you may not be able to make the agreed payments and the retailer may cancel the plan.

You may also be able to significantly reduce future power costs by being more energy efficient.

This article has been republished from a Queensland Consumers Association media release, dated 27th February 2017

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