Retail energy market update
21 May 2014
The AER has published retail performance data for Quarter 3, 2013-14.
Summary of data:
- The number of customers switching energy retailers has decreased in the last 12 months, although switching levels were relatively steady in the March 2014 quarter. Switching rates in Victoria remain the highest in Australia.
- Residential customer complaints were greatest in South Australia and New South Wales, where around 2.8 per cent and 2 per cent of customers respectively made complaints to their energy retailers. Most notably, complaints in the ‘other’ category (not classified as billing, marketing or customer transfer complaints) increased in the March 2014 quarter. In Tasmania and the ACT less than 1 per cent of residential customers made complaints to their retailer.
- The number of residential customers with energy debt was broadly similar to the March quarter of 2013. For both residential and small businesses customers, a greater proportion of gas customers were in debt when compared with electricity customers. The proportion of residential gas customers with debt was around 6 per cent in South Australia and 9 per cent in the ACT.
- Residential customers owed greater debts for electricity than gas. Average residential electricity debt levels were $542 in New South Wales, $632 in South Australia, $668 in Tasmania and $854 in the ACT. Average residential gas debt levels were $216 in South Australia, $361 in New South Wales and $547 in the ACT.
- The number of customers using payment plans to pay energy bills has been relatively stable in each jurisdiction over recent quarters. They are most common in South Australia, where they are used by 3 per cent of electricity customers and 2 per cent of gas customers. In the ACT less than 0.5 per cent of customers use retailer payment plans to pay for electricity and gas.
- The number of customers on hardship programs (receiving assistance tailored to their circumstances) has recently increased, particularly in South Australia and New South Wales. In South Australia around 1 per cent of electricity customers were on a hardship program.
- The number of residential customers disconnected for non-payment of electricity and gas in each jurisdiction was consistent with recent quarters. At the retailer level, the greatest disconnection rates were for Alinta Energy and Australian Power and Gas, which disconnected over 1 per cent of electricity customers for non-payment. With the exception of the ACT, electricity disconnections were more common than gas disconnections.