Despite the introduction of the Victorian Default Offer for electricity, the state’s most vulnerable energy consumers still face challenges in the market. Energy prices changing unexpectedly, excessive penalties for paying only a day late and energy offers being difficult to compare are all issues that have resulted in significant harm to the vulnerable and disadvantaged households Consumer Action assists, as well as the wider market.
In our comment to the Essential Service Commission (ESC) on ‘Ensuring energy contracts are clear and fair’ draft decision (draft decision), we strongly support the direction the ESC has taken in reaching draft decisions that will both ensure protection and simplicity for households accessing fair energy pricing in Victoria. However, the ESC and Victorian Government must go further and ensure that households who enter energy contracts before the implementation of these reforms are also protected.
The draft decision also clearly highlights the need for the Victorian Government to implement a Victorian Default Offer for gas so that households are not confused by different rules for essential electricity and gas services. This would also address a gap in protections for Victorians using gas services.