PIAC lodged a submission to IPART on its 2017 NSW retail electricity market monitoring draft report. Given the findings of various reports examining the high profit margins that electricity retailers appear to be earning, PIAC doubts retail competition is effective in NSW. PIAC noted also that, a competitive market is not an end of itself – rather, the goal must be to achieve acceptable consumer outcomes, and a competitive market is just one way to achieve this.
This lack of effective competition is driven by a range of factors including barriers to effective consumer engagement and barriers to entry for new retailers. PIAC considers some manner of regulation of retail electricity offerings should be considered if market approaches do not deliver consumer benefits, and outlined a number of potential options which are more flexible, and lower in risk, than the traditional approach of a single government- or regulator-determined retail price applied to all consumers.
PIAC advocates for access to essential energy services that is not a source of hardship or distress for consumers. PIAC strongly supports IPART’s recommendation regarding protections for consumers in caravan or residential parks, and proposes additional support that retailers can offer to hardship customers, such as offering assistance before they are in unmanageable debt.