Media release: ACT Government must introduce measures to help Canberrans find the best electricity offer

5 June 2020

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) today welcomed recommendations by the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission (ICRC) aimed at supporting ACT energy consumers to find a better electricity offer more easily.

The final report of the ICRC’s retail electricity price investigation 2020-24 recommends that the ACT Government:

  • develop a reference bill amount which consumers can use as a common point of comparison for assessing electricity offers
  • require retailers to regularly notify their customers if they have a better offer and ask customers to call them for information and assistance with switching.

ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell, said: “ACTCOSS welcomes the ICRC’s recommendations and we commend the Chief Minister for directing the ICRC to explore ways to improve the transparency and comparability of electricity offers as part of its investigation.

“We now encourage the ACT Government to act as quickly as possible to implement the ICRC’s recommendations so that Canberrans can move to more affordable energy offers more easily.

“We commend the ICRC for the efforts it took to understand the challenges faced by ACT energy consumers in choosing from the different offers available from various energy retailers.

“A survey undertaken by the ICRC found that over two thirds of Canberrans have difficulty comparing electricity plans due to there being too many different terms and conditions, and a lack of clarity as to how discounts are calculated. It found that less than one fifth of Canberrans are ‘confident’ that their current electricity plan is best for their circumstances.

“Electricity is an essential service and people should not have to wade through complex and confusing information to access more affordable energy. The ICRC’s final report indicates that there will be little price relief for Canberrans over the next year after a decade of significant electricity price increases. The measures recommended by the ICRC would provide a way to access some price relief by supporting customers to change to a better offer and/or retailer.

“The introduction of ‘better offer notifications’ in the ACT would reduce the burden on consumers and place more accountability on retailers, requiring them to advise their customers if they would save money by moving to one of their other offers. The introduction of a ‘reference bill amount’ will make it easier to compare electricity offers from different retailers.

“There are some supports already in place and ACTCOSS strongly encourages people to visit the Australian Government’s Energy Made Easy website now to find the best electricity and/or gas offers across all ACT energy retailers.

“It is expected that a greater number of Canberrans will struggle to pay their winter energy bills this year due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, including loss of income and bigger bills due to spending more time at home. While far from a panacea, helping people make sure they are not paying more for their energy than they need to would assist in reducing this impact.

“These are simple measures that will have a positive impact, especially for people living in low-income households. We urge the ACT Government to move quickly to implement the measures recommended by the ICRC for the benefit of all Canberrans during a particularly challenging time,” Dr Campbell said.

Find the ICRC’s Retail Electricity Price Investigation 2020-24 Final Report here.

ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations.

For more information or comment, please contact:

Dr Emma Campbell, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0424 910 617 or 02 6202 7200.

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