Retail energy market update
16 March 2015
The AER has published retail performance data for Quarter 2, 2014-15.
Summary of data:
- The number of customers switching to another energy retailer remained relatively flat across each jurisdiction. At 7.6 per cent (electricity) and 5.8 per cent (gas), quarterly switching rates in Victoria remain the highest in Australia. In South Australia the quarterly rate of switching is at its lowest point in 4 years. In the ACT the rate of switching increased at the end of 2014, but is still below 1 per cent for the quarter.
- Complaints to retailers increased in New South Wales and South Australia, where around 3 per cent and 3.7 per cent of residential customers respectively made complaints during the quarter. They have decreased in the ACT and Tasmania, to 0.5 per cent and 0.6 per cent of residential customers respectively.
- In the last 12 months the number of customers repaying electricity debt in New South Wales and Tasmania has decreased, and remains relatively unchanged in South Australia and the ACT. There are also fewer gas customers with debt in New South Wales, although more gas customers in the ACT and South Australia are in debt.
- There are also generally fewer customers receiving no assistance to repay their electricity debt, and more customers on payment plans (except in Tasmania) and hardship programs.
- Average debt levels (excluding hardship program customers) were consistent with previous quarters. Average residential electricity debt levels were $567 in New South Wales, $691 in South Australia, $719 in Tasmania and $802 in the ACT. Average residential gas debt levels were $411 in New South Wales, $295 in South Australia and $510 in the ACT.
- Payment plans are most commonly used in South Australia, with 3.1 per cent of electricity customers and 2.5 per cent of gas customers on payment plans. This figure has been relatively stable over the last 12 months. In the 12 months to the end of December 2014, the number of electricity and gas customers in the ACT on payment plans has increased by 64 per cent and 76 per cent respectively. The number of gas customers on payment plans in NSW over this same period has increased by 74 per cent. With fewer customers in debt in Tasmania, only around 1 per cent of electricity customers are on payment plans.
- In the last 12 months the use of hardship programs to repay energy debt has increased in most areas. The number of electricity customers on hardship programs has increased by 62 per cent in Tasmania, 37 per cent in New South Wales and 32 per cent in South Australia. The number is unchanged in the ACT. The number of gas customers on hardship programs has increased by 50 per cent in South Australia, but only by 5 per cent in the ACT and 2 per cent in New South Wales.
- Hardship programs are most commonly used in South Australia, with 1.4 per cent of electricity customers and 0.9 per cent of gas customers receiving this additional assistance. By comparison, fewer than 0.5 per cent of electricity and gas customers in the ACT are on retailer hardship programs. In New South Wales only 0.35 per cent of gas customers are on hardship programs.
- Hardship program success rates decreased in the December quarter (although were greater in the first half of 2014-15 when compared with 2013-14).
- The number of residential electricity customers disconnected for non-payment has remained reasonably consistent in recent quarters. By comparison, the number of gas disconnections has increased in New South Wales, South Australia and the ACT.
- Rates of electricity reconnection (of customers disconnected) ranged from 43 per cent in South Australia to 60 per cent in the ACT. Gas reconnections were lower, ranging from 24 per cent in New South Wales to 36 per cent in South Australia.