Energy Consumers Australia has published its Annual Report for 2018-19.
Following an extensive period of review in the energy sector from 2016-2018, this year saw us take some early steps in the transformation and modernisation of Australia’s energy system. This transformation has been happening for some time, with many more consumers taking matters into their own hands after a decade-long period of energy price rises.
Early in our organisational life, we identified that these issues could be traced back to deep-seeded systemic problems, and right at the centre of these was a failure to listen to consumers’ voices – indeed this was recognised by government and was part of the rationale for our establishment as an organisation in the first place.
For the past four years, we have been talking about the need for a fundamental reset in the thinking about what is in energy consumers’ long-term interests. That reset needed to start with better listening – directly – to the voice of consumers, so we went about building a research and engagement approach that allows us to listen carefully, and then carry those voices into the arena of public policy and sector decision making.
The voice of consumers has shaped our approach to prioritising our work based on three core principles: Consumers want to see much better value for money for their energy services; they want energy to be individualised around their needs; and they want the system to be optimised so that we’re being smarter about the way we create and deliver energy. We have carried those priorities into the important review work that has happened over the past two years – both nationally and in jurisdictions – the Finkel Review, it now shapes our approach to working with industry, regulators and governments in reform implementation.
Because we take an evidence-based approach to advocacy, we are particularly proud to say that in 2019, virtually all of our research streams are now embedded into the regulatory and decision-making processes of government and regulatory bodies. The Energy Consumer Sentiment Survey now informs the Retail Competition Review, the State of the Energy Market reports, the AEMO’s National Forecasting and the Energy Security Board’s Strategic Energy Plan; while our SME Retail Tariff Tracker was a key input to the ACCC review.
Plugging the consumer voice into the regulatory framework in this highly structured way will underpin long-term structural and cultural change that must happen in the energy sector.