Independent state-wide polling released today by the Consumer Action Law Centre and the Brotherhood of St Laurence has shown that most Victorians don’t trust their electricity companies and strongly support a fair price for energy, to be set by the Government regulator.
The polling found that 88.6% of Victorians are either concerned or very concerned about their electricity bills, and that 70.7% either had little or no trust in their electricity retailer. Just 4.1% had a lot of trust in their electricity company to act in their best interest.
A whopping 66.5% of respondents said they would either support, or strongly support a “Basic Service Offer” (BSO). The BSO would require electricity retailers to offer Victorians a fair price guarantee set by the Government regulator, based on the reasonable cost of running an electricity retail business. Strongest support for the measure came from those in the 65+ age bracket – with 75.6% supporting or strongly supporting the proposal.
The BSO was a recommendation made in August last year by the bipartisan Review of Electricity and Gas Retail Markets in Victoria. The review found that Victorians are paying more for energy than consumers in any other Australian state or territory – and that excessive retail charges are driving high prices.
To fix this, the review recommended that the government regulator should identify a fair price for energy – stripping out all unnecessary retail charges – and require all energy providers to offer that price to their customers. This offer would provide a fair price guarantee for energy, for all Victorians.
The polling was conducted by ReachTEL and surveyed 1,124 randomly selected Victorian residents during the night of 29 January 2018.
The Victorian Government is yet to respond to the review.
Quotes attributable to Gerard Brody, CEO Consumer Action Law Centre:
“This poll clearly shows that the community supports the major policy recommendation of the independent review – a fair price guarantee, set by the government regulator. It is time for the Government to provide its response.”
“A fair price guarantee will make competition work. Retailers will be able to price below the guarantee if they are more efficient than others. Discounts will be clearer and fairer, because there will be a standard rate from which offers are discounted from. A fair price guarantee will fix a confusing marketplace that allows retailers to gouge us.”
Quotes attributable to Conny Lenneberg Executive Director Brotherhood of St Laurence:
“This research confirms that Victorians don’t trust their power companies. They want government to step in and guarantee a fair price.”
“We’re in a terrible position where people are struggling and cutting corners to pay for power, which after all is an essential service.”
“In Victoria’s complicated power market it’s too hard for people to get a fair price for this essential service. The Brotherhood calls on the government to introduce a fair price guarantee. This will be of particular benefit to low-income households which are more vulnerable to high energy prices.”