Aussies paying too much for power

According to Energy Consumers Australia’s (ECA) third national survey of energy markets, Australians are deeply concerned about the future cost and reliability of electricity.

The Energy Consumer Sentiment Survey of 2019 households and 280 small businesses, conducted between 30 March 2017 and 6 April 2017, asked participants about how they manage their energy usage and costs.

On consumer satisfaction, respondents rated electricity last – lower than banks, insurance, internet and all other utilities. Overall, the study revealed that households lack confidence that the market is working in their interest.

Yet despite this dissatisfaction with the market, around half of Australian households have never switched providers. Those who switched enjoyed higher levels of satisfaction with value for money and service.

Australians are confident that, given easily understood information (which at the moment is lacking), they would be able to make better choices about energy prices and services.

ECA’s Chief Executive Rosemary Sinclair has called for energy retailers to address rising electricity costs to improve outcomes for households and small businesses.

“We are deeply concerned about the impact that surging electricity prices are having on households and small businesses,” said Ms Sinclair.

“The Government has the Finkel review findings and the ACCC inquiry into electricity prices is deep into its work, but industry needs to put its shoulder to the wheel as well because we can’t afford to wait to deliver better value to consumers.

“Electricity prices have doubled in the past 10 years and these latest increases are a real threat to household budgets and the economic viability of many small businesses, right now.

“We have given energy retailers a range of options, based on several years’ research by a range of energy consumer advocates, all of which have been put forward in ECA’s submission to the ACCC review into electricity prices.”

The group is meeting with Malcolm Turnbull, Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg in Canberra today to discuss these issues.

“One of the steps which can be taken now, is for retailers to proactively reach out to their customers to help them move onto the best deal for them, and provide advice on how to manage their consumption and costs,” said Ms Sinclair.

“Consumers are currently defaulted onto higher price offers without proper notice and it is highly likely that many are paying hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars more for their electricity services than they need to be paying.”

According to a report from energy economist Bruce Mountain, the ‘Big Three’ electricity retailers charge two to three times more in NSW, VIC, SA and QLD compared to the ACT, which is still a regulated market. Typically, households annually pay around $444 in NSW, $485 in Victoria and $650 in South Australia, whereas, ACT households are charged around $225.

Do you pay too much for electricity? Have you ever switched provider? How was your experience? Would you recommend your provider to our members? Do you think regulating this industry would work more in our favour? 

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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