The Victorian Default Offer (VDO) for the state’s energy market must be available to all Victorians or its objective to ‘provide a simple, trusted and reasonably priced electricity option that safeguards consumers unable or unwilling to engage in the electricity market’ will fail.
Consumer Action Law Centre (Consumer Action) has joined with the Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS) and other consumer advocacy groups to urge the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) to strengthen the Draft Orders in Council to implement the VDO so that the reregulation of energy prices will actually see Victorians paying a fair price.
The VDO comes off the back of the Victorian Government’s work to address affordability issues experienced by the state’s energy consumers. Price deregulation in 2009 has resulted in a number of systemic issues including out of control energy prices and unfair disconnections, leaving many Victorian consumers struggling with energy debts.
We believe that if it is implemented correctly, the VDO will be a great step toward making the energy market operate fairly for Victorians. However, all of this will be for naught if steps are not taken to ensure that more Victorian consumers can benefit from the Offer. The VDO must be efficiently and fairly priced, and all energy retailers must be required to offer the VDO to any customer who requests it.
Our groups also urge DELWP to take additional steps that would help consumers understand the VDO and prevent it from being undermined by a lack of proper regulation.