Vic energy customers told help at hand

Victorians struggling to pay their energy bills following the coronavirus outbreak and summer bushfires are being told energy retailers must offer them support.

The state's Essential Services Commission has launched a campaign to ensure people know energy retailers are required to provide a safety net to those finding it difficult to pay.

Households who cannot pay for their ongoing usage are able to put their debt repayments on hold for six months.

Customers can also request a plan to pay off their energy bills over two years.

Those who receive bill assistance or take part in payment plans cannot have their electricity or gas switched off and cannot face debt collection.

"After a tough summer and the new challenge we now face as a community, Victorians should know help is available if they are having trouble paying their energy bills," commission chairperson Kate Symons said.

Energy companies can also go beyond their mandated obligations, with some so far offering to waive debt or some fees and charges for struggling customers.