The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) is investigating new ways to help consumers access cheaper energy tariffs and save money by switching to more suitable contracts.
AER Chair Paula Conboy said energy affordability is a significant issue for Australian households and customers need to understand what they’re signing up for to effectively participate in the market and find the best energy contract for their circumstances.
“Customers must be able to understand the key elements of an energy contract – price, contract terms, and fees. This is central to building confidence in their ability to make the choice that best serves their needs,” Ms Conboy said.
Working with retailers, consumer representatives and other stakeholders to implement the agreements reached in recent meetings between the Prime Minister and energy retailers, the AER is working to help improve the clarity and accessibility of information about the various energy offers in the market.
The AER is seeking feedback on four key areas – fact sheets, a comparison rate, technological solutions and ways to assist customers who do not use the internet. It also invites suggestions about other tools or strategies to improve customer outcomes in the energy market.
Ms Conboy said the AER is interested in looking at measures that have been successful in other markets or jurisdictions, particularly those involving simplifying complex information so that consumers can be confident in the decisions they make. Measures identified will be tested with the Commonwealth Government’s Behavioural Economics Team Australia (BETA) group to ensure outcomes reflect consumer behavioural insights.
The information received through this consultation, along with findings from the BETA group, will inform a range of work being undertaken by the AER, including the revision of Retail Information Pricing Guidelines and potential future enhancements to the AER’s Energy Made Easy price comparison website.
An outline of the issues to be addressed is available on the AER website. Submissions from consumers and other interested parties will be accepted until 31 October 2017. Further opportunities will be provided to comment once draft approaches are developed.
About the AER
The Australian Energy Regulator regulates energy markets and networks under national legislation and rules in eastern and southern Australia, as well as networks in the Northern Territory. Its functions include:
- regulating retail energy markets in Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania (electricity only), and the ACT;
- operating the Energy Made Easy website, which provides a retail price comparator and other information for energy consumers;
- publishing information on energy markets, including the annual State of the energy market report, to assist participants and the wider community;
- monitoring wholesale electricity and gas markets to ensure energy businesses comply with the legislation and rules, and taking enforcement action where necessary;
- setting the amount of revenue that network businesses can recover from customers for using networks (electricity poles and wires and gas pipelines) that transport energy.