The Victorian energy regulator has handed down a report saying that small businesses could save thousands on their energy bills with a single phone call.
The Essential Services Commission found that a phone call to their energy provider could let them escape their default energy plan and switch to a cheaper alternative.
The ESC found that small businesses in Victoria alone could save as much as $24 million by making the switch.
Chief executive of the Essential Services Commission, John Hamill has said that default energy plans from major service providers can be up to 24% more expensive than plans relevant to small businesses.
“This finding shows how important it is to pick up the phone and talk to your energy retailer about their best offer,” he said.
“Small businesses could be experiencing bill stress during this challenging period and these potential savings could provide some welcome relief.”
“Small business owners have been doing it tough and there is currently no minimum standard of support from retailers if they face stress brought on by energy bills… we have recognised a gap in protections in the energy market for small businesses and Victorians seeking assistance,” he said.
“These proposed reforms offer a safety net for those who need it most,” Dr Hamill concluded.
The Commission is advocating for small businesses that have been impacted by the pandemic to receive flexible payment options, and for energy providers to make cheaper, more relevant contracts available to those that are struggling financially.
A report from The Age quotes Peter Gunn, owner of a popular restaurant in Collingwood. Mr Gunn said that his quarterly gas bill amounts to around $1300.
“With the gas bills, you do forget they are coming… and any time you get an invoice for over $1000, it hurts.”
“I would love to be able to have a relationship with my gas company like I do with many of my suppliers,” he continued to explain, adding that “if there was something of benefit to me, it would be great if they reached out before things got to a point that I’m in trouble.”
The Commission found that 684 small businesses based in Victoria were on the receiving end of payment assistance programs from their gas provider, with an average of $1441 saved on their account.
It also found, however, that there were as many as 2488 small businesses that were struggling to pay their electricity bills, with an average of $1141 owed per business.
While the Commission’s report was conducted on energy providers in Victoria specifically, industry analysts have said that it’s a worthwhile investment of time to see if your energy supplier can provide you with any discounts or concessions, particularly if you were negatively impacted by the pandemic.