CHOICE says there’s more to cheaper electricity than deregulation and smart meters
CHOICE has welcomed the Federal Government’s focus on tackling peak electricity demand in today’s Energy White Paper.
But the consumer group has called for an approach that goes beyond simply retail price deregulation and smart meters, saying this is no substitute for the heavy lifting of system-wide reform.
“This is a crucial time in the push to fix Australia’s broken electricity system and ensuring we don’t repeat the unacceptable increases in household bills of the last five years,” says CHOICE head of campaigns, Matt Levey.
“When you consider around 25% of the average household electricity bill goes towards meeting around 40 hours of peak demand every year, it is clear the current system is not working in consumers’ best interests.
“This debate has to be about what works for consumers, how we can provide much better information, better protections and fix a regulatory system that rewards ‘poles and wires’ businesses for building more and more expensive infrastructure,” says Mr Levey.
CHOICE says there is no doubt that smart meters and time-varying electricity tariffs have an important role to play in reducing peak demand, but says there needs to be a focus on what genuine competition looks like for consumers.
“Australia has an immature retail electricity market, and in Victoria, often held up as the model for deregulation, we see very high levels of churn often used as a proxy for competition,” says Mr Levey.
“We need to work towards a market where informed consumers make active purchasing decisions and have robust national protections, particularly for vulnerable households.
“We don’t need is a ‘build it and they will come’ approach to new technologies, where we roll out waves of expensive infrastructure, deluge everyone with data and expect households will somehow navigate an increasingly complex market with confidence,” says Mr Levey.
CHOICE recently joined with a coalition of community and business groups to launch a Plan for Affordable Energy, making several recommendations for energy market reform.
CHOICE has also launched Take the Power Back, a campaign calling on State and Federal energy ministers to fix Australia’s broken electricity system.
Matt Levey, CHOICE Head of Campaigns – 0488 214 066