The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has welcomed the Energy and Climate Change Ministerial Council’s (ECMC) decision to progress work on a proposed package of Game changer reforms that will deliver significant improvements in outcomes for energy consumers experiencing vulnerability.
After calling for sector-wide reforms in 2022, the AER brought together leaders from industry, government, market bodies, ombudsman schemes and consumer advocates to develop the package that was today presented to energy ministers.
Under the comprehensive package, consumers would receive concessions they are entitled to and those in hardship would receive their retailer’s best offer to help them lower their bills.
Financial counselling would be readily available to assist customers experiencing vulnerability and debt relief would be available for customers who are genuinely unable to pay and fall behind on their payments.
Energy efficiency assistance would also be more accessible and retailers who can demonstrate that they are providing best-practice support for customers would be able to access a shared funding pool to deliver the debt relief and energy efficiency elements of the package.
AER Chair Ms Clare Savage thanked the ECMC for its commitment to further progress the proposed reforms and the Game changer Leadership and Design Groups for their ongoing collaboration.
“Energy is an essential service, so it’s important that we think differently about how we can approach and overcome energy hardship, vulnerability and the persistent challenges faced by consumers in the sector.
“The Game changer package of reforms presented to energy ministers today is the culmination of 20 months of hard work by stakeholders across the sector.
“We thank all of these stakeholders for their dedication to and belief in developing a new way to address energy hardship, and we look forward to working with the ECMC as it considers the proposed reforms,” Ms Savage said.
The Australian Government will lead work with other jurisdictions to take the Game changer package forward for further analysis, consultation, and detailed policy development.
Note to Editors
Supporting vulnerable consumers
The AER launched its Towards Energy Equity strategy in October 2022 which details 15 specific actions to tackle market complexity, remove barriers to participation, increase protections, and improve affordability for all consumers by reducing retailers’ cost to serve customers.
One of these actions is to advocate for sector-wide ‘game changer’ reforms to improve outcomes for vulnerable consumers.