The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) has released its fourth annual review of the state of competition in retail energy markets across the national electricity market which includes Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory. The review makes a number of recommendations to improve customer outcomes.
The review found that energy consumers have more choices to manage their energy use and are looking to take up new technology options:
20% of consumers surveyed now have solar panels
21% are likely to adopt battery storage in the next two years
18% are likely to take up a home energy management system in the next two years.
New retailers are entering the market with new business models and pricing structures. At the same time, new energy service providers are introducing technology, digital platforms and software solutions to create simple service offers for consumers. This is forcing traditional retailers to compete not just on price, but with more innovative products and services.
Overall, competitive retail market indicators continue to improve in jurisdictions with price deregulation.
By shopping around some households can save 38% or $507 on their yearly electricity bill and 30% or $285 on gas. These potential savings are larger than last year.
Also, residential consumers are more aware of their choices: more than 90% of energy consumers know that they can choose their retailer, and around 80% of residential consumers actively chose their current energy offer.
However, 30% of consumers are unable to identify the type of plan or offer they are on, and consumers find it harder to compare energy offers than they do in banking, insurance and telecommunications. Consumer awareness of the government’s Energy Made Easy comparison website remains at 9%.
The report makes a number of recommendations to make it easier for customers to take advantage of competition and make the best energy choices for their household or business.
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In recent months, there have been a number of inaccurate media stories linking high electricity prices in South Australia with the state’s high proportion of wind and solar generation.
While the complexities and technical aspects of the electricity system can be difficult to fully understand (even for those in the sector), we hope this explainer provides some clear answers on what is happening with electricity prices in South Australia and why other factors such as high gas prices, limited connection with the eastern states and lack of competition in South Australia’s electricity market are primarily to blame.
The AEMC predicts national residential electricity prices will fall on average over the next two years from mid 2018, as more variable wind and solar generation comes online - offsetting this year’s price increase.