AEMC review: stronger action needed by energy retailers and regulators to ensure that the market is working for consumers

Following the release of the Australian Energy Market Commission’s (AEMC) 2018 Retail Energy Competition Review, PIAC’s Energy and Water Consumers’ Advocacy Program (EWCAP) has called for stronger action by energy retailers and regulators to ensure that the market is working for consumers.

‘We welcome the Commission’s report and note the finding that the deregulation of retail energy markets has not delivered for consumers,’ said EWCAP Senior Policy Officer, Miyuru Ediriweera.

‘These findings confirm what we have heard when we work with the community. Consumers throughout NSW are struggling with high energy bills, and disadvantaged households are hit the hardest.’

While PIAC welcomes the ongoing work of the government and regulators to increase transparency in the market, this is not sufficient to improve consumer outcomes.

‘The retail energy market is highly confusing for consumers’, said Mr Edirweera. ‘While better information is important, retailers also need to develop simple, attractive offers that are easy for consumers to analyse and compare.’

‘While market competition is generally associated with the development of new, innovative products, this has not played out in the energy retail space.

‘Even though there has been an increase in consumers signing-up with smaller retailers, they are not seeing the innovative deals that were predicted in a more de-regulated retail market.

‘An important measure of whether the market is improving is not how many retailers there are, but whether small, innovative retailers are allowed to thrive. The Review’s findings indicate that this is not currently the case.’

‘Fundamentally, Australian energy consumers expect to pay a fair price for their essential energy services, and they need more than just extra information from governments, regulators and retailers to ensure that innovation occurs, and that the price they are paying is fair.’

‘PIAC looks forward to working with the AEMC, retailers and the government so that the retail energy market works better for consumers in future.’

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