Energy Consumers Australia (ECA) appreciates the opportunity to provide comments on the Australian Energy Regulator’s (AER) Draft Retail Pricing Information Guidelines of January 2018 (Draft Guidelines).
Energy Consumers Australia is the national voice for residential and small business energy consumers. Established by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in 2015, our objective is to promote the long-term interests of consumers with respect to price, quality, reliability, safety and security of supply.
As the Notice of Draft Instrument (Notice) sets out, this AER process is taking place against a backdrop of intense focus on the operation of retail energy markets. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commissions (ACCC) Review of the Retail Electricity Market is expected to report in June 2018, while the Prime Minister has already secured agreement with retailers to act to ensure families are not paying more than they need to.
The revised Guidelines implement the retailers’ commitment to develop ‘simple, plain English, fact sheets with understandable comparison rates.’ Retailers are required under the National Energy Retail Law to publish price information in accordance with the requirements of the Retail Pricing Information Guidelines (RPIG). Accordingly, the realisation of that commitment requires the current review.
Energy Consumers Australia welcomes these commitments. They are a good first step to improving the outcomes for consumers. However, to achieve the full benefits of retail contestability and to put downward pressure on upstream costs, retail price structures need to become more innovative and retailers must tailor their communications to their customers’ circumstances and capabilities. Energy Made Easy is an important part of the suite of changes required to improve demand side engagement. In the medium term our effort needs to focus on developing Energy Made Easy into a comparison tool capable of obtaining customer consumption data and providing accurate bill estimates rather than relying on simple comparison rates.
The full submission can be read here.