Uniting Communities congratulates the ACCC on delivering a report proposing a practical path to average energy savings of about 20% within 3 years in South Australia and calls on governments, industry and regulators to deliver on the 56 recommendations.

The report recognises ‘once and for all’ that energy prices are too high. The ACCC says its recommendations ‘improve equity as low-income households pay a much higher share of disposable income on electricity. They should not be paying more for electricity because of poor past decisions or inappropriate market behavior.’

‘The ACCC savages the discounting practices of energy retailers and other approaches that have made energy bills excessively complex for customers. Uniting Communities strongly supports the recommendation for a standard ‘default offer’ to be published by the Australian Energy Regulatory with all advertised discounts to refer to this single benchmark price,’ said Mark Henley, Manager of Advocacy for Uniting Communities.

The report identifies areas for saving in every aspect of energy bills: generation, networks, retail and ‘green schemes’ with the major savings in South Australia being from reduced generation (wholesale) costs, and recommends increases in funding for concessions and targeted energy affordability advice programs.

An important finding in the report is that more than half of people in hardship are losing out from apparent ‘pay on time discounts’ which the ACCC says are ‘are excessive and punitive’ for people unable to always pay on time.

The one gap in the report is that it does not make firm recommendations about improving energy efficiency of housing nor does it deal with ‘the split incentive’ dilemma for low income, private sector renters. The landlord pays the cost of improving energy efficiency and access to PV to reduce energy bills, with the benefits being with the bill paying renter. This dilemma continues to be a high priority for Uniting Communities.

‘We welcome the ACCC’s report, which reveals a situation that is unsustainable, unaffordable and unacceptable for consumers, and finally provides a clear path for significant energy cost-savings,’ concluded Mr Henley.

For comment

Mark Henley
0404 067 011
8202 5135 (w)
8370 1112 (ah)