The new support measures by the Essential Services Commission include energy companies helping eligible small businesses complete Utility Relief Grant applications over the phone in order to access to $1,300 in energy bill support.
Other assistance from energy companies include offering assistance to small businesses experiencing financial stress and conducting tariff checks for residential customers receiving payment assistance.
The Victorian government said the new support measures are aimed at strengthening protections for residential and small-business energy customers impacted by the coronavirus.
It has also launched a new advertising campaign, which will be translated into 20 languages, encouraging customers doing it tough to reach out to their energy company and know their rights.
This forms part of the Victorian government’s Payment Difficulty Framework, whereby energy companies must assist any household that engages with them, preventing them from being disconnected.
Governments both federal and state have recognised energy bills as a major pain point for small businesses, even before they were hit by the economic effects of COVID-19.
Earlier this month, the federal government announced $14.8 million of grants for high-energy-using businesses to look for areas of efficiency that will help lower their power bills.
Businesses across Australia consuming more than 0.05 petajoules of energy annually are eligible to apply for grants of up to $25,000, which can be spent on equipment upgrades that save energy, investment in monitoring systems to better manage energy use, and energy audits and feasibility studies to investigate energy efficiency opportunities.