Retail energy market update
9 June 2015
The AER has published retail performance data for Quarter 3, 2014-15.
Summary of data:
- The number of customers switching to other energy retailers remained flat in each jurisdiction, and decreased in Victoria and New South Wales, where switching activity is typically greater. Although still low, the rate of electricity switching in the ACT increased to around 1.5 per cent in the quarter.
- Complaints to retailers decreased from the December quarter in New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania, where around 2.8 per cent, 3 per cent and 0.6 per cent of residential customers respectively made complaints during the quarter. They slightly increased in the ACT, to 0.8 per cent of residential customers.
- In most jurisdictions and for most fuel types, the number of customers repaying energy debt (without the assistance of a hardship program) has decreased in the last 12 months. Most notably, the number of residential customers repaying gas debt in the ACT increased to over 11 per cent of all customers at the end of March.
- Average debt levels (excluding hardship program customers) were reasonably consistent with previous quarters. Average residential electricity debt levels were $591 in New South Wales, $699 in South Australia, $701 in Tasmania and $846 in the ACT. Average residential gas debt levels increased to $411 in New South Wales, and were $275 in South Australia and $490 in the ACT.
- Around 3.4 per cent of customers in New South Wales and 3 per cent of customers in South Australia are using payment plans to repay electricity debt. Around 1 per cent of electricity customers in Tasmania are on payment plans, although there are fewer customers repaying debt. Less than 0.7 per cent of electricity customers in the ACT are on a retailer’s payment plan.
- Generally fewer customers use payment plans to repay gas debt. Around 2.4 per cent of customers in South Australia, 1.7 per cent of customers in New South Wales and 0.7 per cent of customers in the ACT receive this form of assistance.
- Hardship programs are most commonly used in South Australia, with 1.5 per cent of electricity customers and 1 per cent of gas customers receiving this additional assistance. In New South Wales 0.8 per cent of electricity customers and around 0.4 per cent of gas customers are on hardship programs. In Tasmania, the number of electricity customers on hardship programs (0.66 per cent) has increased by 85 per cent in the last 12 months. By comparison, over the same period the number of customers on hardship programs in the ACT has been steady, at around 0.5 per cent for electricity and gas.
- Hardship program success rates generally increased in the March quarter and are so far greater in 2014-15 than in 2013-14.
- The number of residential electricity customers disconnected for non-payment was consistent with the March 2014 quarter, and has remained reasonably steady over recent quarters. In contrast, the number of gas disconnections has increased and was greater than the March 2014 quarter in New South Wales (by 37 per cent), South Australia (by 60 per cent) and the ACT (by 46 per cent).
- Rates of electricity reconnection (of residential customers disconnected) ranged from 39 per cent in New South Wales to 61 per cent in the ACT. Most reconnections occurred within seven days, and ranged from 70 per cent of disconnected customers in New South Wales to 95 per cent of disconnected customers in the ACT.
- Gas reconnections were lower, ranging from 23 per cent in New South Wales to 36 per cent in the ACT. Between 75 and 80 per cent of residential gas customers disconnected were reconnected within seven days.