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Commentary

9 in 10 households turning to technology to tackle expensive electricity bills

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Energy Consumers Australia

New research released today by Energy Consumers Australia shows three quarters of Australian households think their electricity bills are expensive and 90 per cent are looking to technology like solar, battery storage and smart meters to cut their bills.

Rosemary Sinclair, CEO of Energy Consumers Australia, said the results reflect a near doubling of electricity prices in the last eight years.

“Modest price falls in some states over the past two years haven’t been sufficient to erase from consumers memories the cost increases they experienced, and which they are still paying for today.

“Consumers are taking matters into their own hands with 50 per cent of households turning to solar panels and 28 per cent looking at battery storage.

“This is not a matter of a few dollars for efficient light bulbs – people are prepared to spend significant money to address a major cost of living pressure.”

In a sign of a major disruption to the current business model of networks, 81 per cent of households who have installed, or are looking to install, solar panels, are also looking to add battery storage to enhance the effectiveness of the solar PV.

“Almost 1.5 million Australians already have solar panels and this has already had a big impact on electricity demand, reducing the need for new investment in the network. If that number doubles and consumers store solar power generated when the sun is out for use at night time, that has the potential to radically transform the electricity sector,” Ms Sinclair said.

“In taking control with technology like solar, battery storage and smart meters, consumers are reshaping the entire energy sector in their own image.”

Ms Sinclair said parts of the electricity industry are preparing for these changes. The Energy Networks Association in conjunction with the CSIRO has been considering the impacts through their Network Transformation Roadmap and an interim report from that program was released today.

“In fashioning the future for the energy sector, the Network Transformation Roadmap needs reflect the start point for consumers – prices are expensive and customer service from the industry rates very poorly. Discussion about transforming this sector needs to put what consumers really think right at the centre,” Ms Sinclair said.

“Australia’s energy networks have a critical role to play as an intelligent two-way platform across which the market can manage a distributed energy system. The development of these capabilities within the networks needs to support, not hinder, the development of the market for energy management services.

“Australia needs a high quality, future looking grid enabling an explosion of innovative services, at prices consumers think are fair.”

Ms Sinclair said this is the first consumer research that Energy Consumers Australia has conducted, but flagged more to come.

“Over coming months we will be developing a series of indicators of energy consumer sentiment to inform consumer advocates and policy makers,” Ms Sinclair said.

“The transformation we are about to see in energy services has to start with what consumers are thinking and doing.”

Topline research results

Q. Which of the following statements best describes how you feel about your electricity bill?

My electricity bill is very expensive – 29%

My electricity bill is expensive – 45%

My electricity bill is about right – 23%

My electricity bill is cheap – 2%

My electricity bill is very cheap – 1%

Q. Are you considering purchasing or using any of the following technologies to manage the cost of electricity in your household?

 

About Energy Consumers Australia

Energy Consumers Australia was formed by the COAG Energy Council to promote the long term interests of consumers through:

  • Effectively and objectively participating in National Energy Market (NEM) issues and influencing regulatory activities and energy market reform to benefit consumers.
  • Frequently engaging and communicating with consumers and consumer advocates to discuss, support, liaise, collaborate, educate, identify and to receive and provide updates on the NEM and its policies, reforms, issues and general news.
  • Building national and jurisdictional expertise and capacity through research, knowledge development and consultation to advance the interests of Australian energy consumers, in particular residential and small business consumers
  • Undertaking robust research to build knowledge, engage and influence policy development and educate consumers in the energy markets.
  • Funding and managing grants to build knowledge and sectoral capacity supporting policy development and consumer education in the National Energy Market.
  • Creating and maintaining effective working relationships with key stakeholders.
  • Developing understanding of the distinct market differences between jurisdictions within the National Energy Market and applying these considerations when engaging, responding or initiating work on behalf of energy consumers’ interests.
  • Engaging and communicating with representatives from the energy industry on issues in the interest of consumers.