Electricity has traditionally been a regulated essential service that occupied a stable portion of Australian consumers’ living expenses. Until relatively recently, they have not had to exert time or energy in order to receive it.
The advent of competitive markets in most National Energy Market states has changed this equation. As electricity prices have increased and consumed an ever-growing portion of household income, consumers have needed to participate in the market or lose out.
The consequences for the many consumers who do not engage, or lack the capacity to, are significant—they can be hundreds of dollars worse off each year than those who have the confidence and ability to shop around for a better deal. Every week, Consumer Action’s financial counsellors and lawyers see the consequences of unaffordable energy, including rising debt, stress and the significant financial and social costs associated with disconnection.
Consumer Action Law Centre submisison to ACCC inquiry into retail electricity supply and pricing Issues Paper