The BULB  •  Issue #24  •  November 2022
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The BULB aims to inform and inspire. It is a platform for ongoing education and support to community services workers, volunteers and the wider community.
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Utilities Literacy for Community Workers


Do you have clients who struggle with electricity, gas or water bills? Would you like to help them more, but don’t know how? This workshop will provide some answers!                                             

ConnectEd's Utilities literacy training for community workers will teach you about:
- Electricity, gas and water in South Australia
- Reading and understanding meters and bills
- Using energy and water efficiently at home
- How to choose an energy retailer and get a good deal
- Concessions, complaints, disputes and hardship
- New technologies and tariff reform.

ONLINE in 2023
Delivered via Microsoft Teams

Wednesdays in March
1, 8, 15, 22 and 29
Register here
Mondays in May
1, 8, 15, 22 and 29
Register here
Face-to-face in 2023
Held at UCWB
77 Gibson Street, Bowden

Thursdays 2 & 9 March 2023
Register here

Morning tea provided
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Online info sessions

Bite-sized topics for busy people
Join a ConnectEd professional and our guest presenters to learn about the issues and opportunities for consumers of utilities in SA!
All session are held live on Microsoft Teams and will be recorded.

Telecommunications – plans, products and advocacy 

Join us in speaking to Uniting Country SA to learn about the basics of supporting clients to choose a suitable plan and device, and also what to do if you or a client is stuck in an unaffordable contract.

Wednesday 30 November 2022
Register here

Summer coolers  

Summer can be uncomfortable. Join this conversation to learn ways to prevent your house from heating up, and create cooler space to retreat too. 

Tuesday 20 December
2.00-3.30pm 2022
Register here

Retailer Energy Productivity Scheme (REPS)
– A chat with YESS 

The REPS is a South Australian program providing discounts and rebates on energy efficient household services and products for those on low incomes. Join ConnectEd and Your Energy Savings Solutions (YESS) for a chat about what is on offer, and much more.

Thursday 19 January 2023
11.00am - 12.30pm
Register here
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SPOTLIGHT - Energy costs increasing

What can you do about it?
The Federal Government's budget of Tuesday 25 October tipped electricity bills to increase by 56% over the next two years, and gas prices by 44% over the next 18 months.

For any household, this is a concern, but more so for those living on Centrelink incomes, on low wages, and those most vulnerable in the community. Energy bills are already twice as high (on average) for those on low incomes compared to their wealthier counterparts. SA hardship customers average energy debt is above the national average and growing.  
Many in our sector are optimistic that South Australians may not experience bill growth to the same degree as the east coast, due to the state's high use of renewable energy - but we are yet to find out!

Now is the time to consider how all households can manage and lower their electricity and gas bills.

No cost

Create a payment plan
Find the daily cost on your electricity and gas bills, and multiply by 14

Pay this amount, in advance towards your electricity and gas bill every fortnight, after getting paid (or weekly, monthly etc).
Daily cost: $4.77   X   14    =   $66.78
(the amount to pay per fortnight)

Apply here

Eligibility criteria applies
ConcessionsSA - household concessions
The energy concession for this financial year is $241.63, and is applied to electricity bills as a credit. It may be able to be backdated for 12 months.

The combined household concession application form (linked left) also covers water and sewage concessions, Cost of Living concessions and Emergency Services Levy. 

Visit the website 

Origin Concession Discount Offer (SACEDO)
Retail offer by Origin Energy for those receiving or eligible for a energy concession (as above). Get 21% off electricity and 11% off gas; for both usage and supply.  

Visit the website

Energy Made Easy
Compare all the retail electricity and gas offers available to you. It's the only website with all plans, no sales pushes, and it's government-backed. 

Book an audit

ConnectEd home energy audit 
A 1 hour free audit can identify high energy-using appliances and habits, and provide education and resources to change and reduce use. Our skilled auditors at Uniting Communities can also offer budget support and look at other utilities like water, gas and telecommunications.

Some cost

Visit the
ESCOSA website

Retailer Energy Productivity Scheme (REPS)
Save money, get rebates or gift cards for upgrading appliances in your home to be more energy efficient. 

We've written an article to explain what REPS is, who is eligible and how they can access it. There is also an online information session in January - book here

Read more from the Climate Council

Get off gas
Get rid of your gas appliances and upgrade to efficient, healthier options. Electrification of your hot water (hot water heat pump), cook top (induction), and heating and cooling (reverse cycle air conditioner) will reduce their energy use by 30-75%. This saves you not only in usage charges, but also the gas daily supply charge.

FREE: Seek help from a financial counsellor

Visit the
SAFCA website

Behind housing costs (rent and mortgage), food, and fuel, energy bills are most Australians' next biggest budget concern.

With many households facing financial pressures - know that you can seek support from free, non-judgemental financial counsellors all over Australia. 
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Plug In - its a new information hub for Australians wanting to know more about technology like rooftop solar, batteries, and electric vehicles.

You'll find fact sheets and a directory with information on buying, installing, and using these technologies, and more.
5 questions to ask when installing solar power
How to get the right solar battery for your home 
Debunking the top six electric vehicle myths
Everything you need to know about going off-grid                                   .... & more
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26 November is shaping up to be a big day for sustainability in Adelaide's east. 


1) Blackwood CARExpo - Climate Action Resource Expo

ConnectEd will be there to talk about energy bills, how to lower them, and in doing so - lower your carbon footprint!

Free entry, download the flyer for more information. 

2) Campbelltown Sustainable Homes Expo

Hosted by the Campbelltown City Council, this free event will be a one-stop-shop for everyone interested to make their homes a safe, comfortable, and energy efficient haven!

Starting at 10am, Campbelltown Function Centre 172 Montacute Road Rostrevor.
Book online.

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Blackout affects 163,000 customers


On Saturday 12 November, a violent storm front swept through South Australia, leaving trees felled, wires down, and over 163,000 customers without electricity. More than 423,000 lightning strikes were recorded across the state. Emergency services were stretched to respond, with live wires across residential streets creating fire and electrocution hazards, and damaged suburbs plunged into darkness.

SA Power Networks joined with police, fire and State Emergency Services to respond. Twenty-four hours later, 65,000 customers were still without power. Over the following days, blacked-out electricity customers repeatedly checked SA Power Networks’ online Outage map, and arborists and line crews worked around the clock to clear branches and reinstate conductors. Additional line crews arrived from interstate to help, but with the extent of damage, and further damaging wind warnings, the last customers were without power for more than a week, finally being reconnected on Sunday 20 November.

In a further complication, a high-voltage ElectraNet transmission tower near Tailem Bend was damaged by the storm, causing most of South Australia to be cut off from the rest of the National Electricity Market. Without this connection to import and export flows of electricity, the Australian Energy Market Operator took steps to maintain the security of the islanded system – ordering large users to switch on to use more electricity, and ordering solar generation to be switched off, so that there would be enough requirement in the system for several traditional, fossil-fuelled generators to fire up and provide a steady supply. Just a few weeks ago, the entire state ran for more than five hours on rooftop solar alone – but without either a lot more local quick-response storage (eg batteries) or the connection to the larger grid to help balance supply and demand from moment to moment, the system is at risk of blackout if a cloud passes over.

As the sun shone, householders with solar systems noticed their systems switching off, either by remote control to their inverter, or tripped by deliberately-raised network voltage. Many were irate, perhaps not understanding that this was an extreme measure for a very unusual situation.

ElectraNet was able to partially restore the interconnection by late Saturday 19 November, a week after the storm damage; further wild weather has delayed the full restoration, now expected to be completed late on Wednesday 23 November.

SA Power Networks customers can sign up to receive notifications regarding scheduled maintenance, unscheduled outages, and meter readings via Power@MyPlace.
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Digital skills

The Good Things Foundation - NBN training

Thinking of connecting to the nbn™ or want to learn more about what you can do when you’re connected? The two courses below will help you understand more about what the nbn™ is, how to get connected, and how to make sure you’re getting the most out of your connection.

Introduction to the nbn™ network
Making the most of your nbn™ connection
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Modernising renting laws in SA

Have your say about proposed changes to South Australia’s renting laws for residential properties.

The last significant review to the Residential Tenancies Act 1995 (RTA) was in 2014. Now is the time to ensure tenants get a better deal on a range of issues like pet ownership, making small modifications, and housing standards.

ConnectEd workers see a lot of renters, and hear a lot of stories from renters of utility hardship and inequity. There can be many reasons for this:
  • Renters are not considered customers of our state water retailer, SA Water, can't access their hardship program, and find it hard to access billing and usage information.
  • Renters on low incomes can find their homes have poor insulation, inefficient heating and cooling, and other factors that create uncomfortable and unhealthy indoor environments.
  • Renters usually don't get access to technology like solar panels and batteries, as they don't own the property.
ConnectEd will be submitting feedback; will you?
Consultation closes 16 December 2022.
Visit to provide feedback on the RTA review
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Uniting Communities is collecting the voices of tenants to submit for the RTA review. Please share this opportunity with renters in your client or customer communities:

Call for renting stories!

The government is reviewing the Residential Tenancies Act, which could be a game changer for many SA renters who are struggling in the current rental crisis. Uniting Communities is seeking renters' stories and experiences to advocate for rental reform. Take this 4-minute survey to share your renting story and help bring relief to thousands of renters. If you work in the social sector, please promote this survey to clients who may be renters.

Note: All stories shared will be anonymous and deidentified. 

Or repost the original Facebook and LinkedIn post.

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And while you're at, have a look at the proposed Hydrogen and Renewable Energy Act.

The Department for Energy and Mining is seeking public input on the proposed development of a Hydrogen and Renewable Energy Act to regulate large-scale hydrogen and renewable energy projects in South Australia. Consultation closes 10 February 2023.

Visit yourSay
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Protections for energy customers

New rules aim to protect customers experiencing family violence

Energy customers affected by family violence will soon be better protected under new rules set out by the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC), to come into effect on 1 May 2023. 

The final rule requires that when dealing with customers affected by family violence, retailers must:

  • have regard firstly to the safety of an affected customer in any dealing they have with them.
  • not disclose confidential information about an affected customer to another person (and must require their contractors and agents not to disclose this information) without the customer’s consent.
  • provide a secure process to identify affected customers and minimise the need for them to repeatedly disclose their experiences.
  • not require documentary evidence in order to offer protection.
  • ensure staff can identify, assist, and engage appropriately and effectively with customers affected by family violence.
  • adopt, publish, and comply with a comprehensive family violence policy.
  • consider family violence as likely to cause payment difficulties and hardship, meaning affected customers may also qualify for other forms of assistance.
This final rule and fact sheets can be found here
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New fee for solar customers

Electricity distributor SA Power Networks is developing plans to charge solar system owners a transportation fee for excess solar electricity exports during daytime hours.


These fees will then be used to improve the network so that more solar electricity can be utilised; as part of the move towards “cost reflective tariffs”, only solar generators will need to pay for this capacity, rather than the cost being paid by all users of the network. Conversely, solar generators may receive a payment if they can export energy during peak evening hours.

Every five years, electricity distribution businesses such as SA Power Networks must submit a “Regulatory Reset Proposal” to the Australian Energy Regulator, to make their case for their business plans for the next five years, and for the tariffs they propose to collect from customers. As part of this process, businesses are required to consult with customer representatives about the various aspects of their plans, to explain and gain customer support.

SA Power Networks’ planning for the 2025-30 Regulatory Period is well underway, with a number of “broad and diverse” consultations held earlier this year leading into a number of “focussed conversations” which kicked off in July. The outcomes of these conversations will inform a “People’s Panel”, to be hosted between November and February next year.

A ConnectEd Coordinator has been a part of several of these focussed conversations over recent months, representing low-income and otherwise vulnerable electricity consumers.

One of the important themes of these conversations is SA Power Networks’ planning to further “the energy transition”, from centralised fossil fuelled electricity to decentralised renewable supply. Much of the electricity distribution network was first built in the 1950s and 60s, and will need some clever upgrades to work at its best under 21st Century conditions. Some of these upgrades fall under “business as usual”, while others represent a more proactive response to rapid change.

The plan to introduce solar export fees is a response to a new rule made in 2021. The new tariff is likely to be introduced progressively between 2025 and 2030.

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Summer water bills

Summer is the peak season for water use, but usually you don't know about it until months later, when your bill arrives!

SA's average daily water use per person peaks at 260L in summer, and dips to about 90L in winter (according to the graph below, from SA Water).

The reason for this is our gardens (and perhaps pools)!

Ways to prevent high water bills in summer
  1. Mulch your garden: it slows evaporation of water from the soil and lowers your need to water as much.
  2. Water in early morning, late afternoon: when there is no sun to evaporate it.
  3. Set up a dripper system to water your plants: the water will go to where its needed, under the mulch and to the plants roots.
  4. Put a tap timer on your sprinkler or dripper system: and control how long you water for. If your plants are thriving, reduce the time over a few weeks, and see how the garden copes.
  5. Cover your pool when not in use: this lowers the amount of water evaporating. 
Visit the SA Water website for more ways to save water in your home and garden all year round. 
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FREE Home energy audits 

by telephone or video call


COVID-19, the rising cost of living and energy price increases has made life harder for many, and with incomes reduced and more time at home, energy bills have loomed large. Do you know someone who needs to know how to cut their costs?

ConnectEd's experienced energy assessors carry out home energy audits and provide personalised advice on how to cut energy costs. This service is available over the phone, with a COVID-safe face-to-face follow-up in the home when needed.

Learn more about home energy audits

Book it in

Download and submit the referral form at

Contact us on 08 8202 5128 or email
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Community information sessions 


Book in ConnectEd to visit your community, staff or volunteer group and learn how to: 

  • how to read and pay utility bills
  • find the best energy plan
  • find where your big energy use is
  • discuss lower cost alternatives
  • ask any questions or share your tips.

To get the most out of this time, bring your most recent utility bills with you.

Sessions are available either face-to-face or online, and can go for 1-2 hours or longer. 

Book it in

Send an email to with a location and some suggested times/dates.

If you're looking for a comprehensive training package for your staff, consider our two-day face to face or five part-day training sessions. 

"The talk is very interesting, very interactive - have learnt a lot"
Participant from Winter Warmer session at UCWB, June 2022 
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Its all about saving money, getting the best deal, information and advice on utilities in your home. 


Its more exciting than it sounds!

The ConnectEd Program supports people to reduce financial hardship associated with electricity, gas, water and communication services.


4 ways to manage your energy and water bills

Make sure your energy deal is right for you
Find out if you are eligible for a concession
Be mindful of your consumption – save on energy and water use
Know how to get help if you need it
The BULB is brought to you by the ConnectEd team at UCWB.
ConnectEd is funded by the Department of Human Services.

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UnitingCare Wesley Bowden (UCWB) · 77 Gibson Street · Bowden, SA 5007 · Australia

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