Retail energy market performance update for Quarter 3, 2015-16

Segment: 
Category: 
Retail energy market update
Release date: 
1 July 2016

Overview

The AER has published retail performance data for Q3 2015-16.

Summary of data:

  • The number of customers switching to other energy retailers decreased in most jurisdictions in the March quarter (down 3.7 per cent for electricity, 6.3 per cent for gas). However, switching rates are generally consistent with 12 months ago.
  • The number of complaints to retailers varies across each jurisdiction, with most residential complaints made in South Australia (4.2 per cent of customers), and followed by New South Wales (3.9 per cent), Queensland (3.3 per cent), the ACT (1.8 per cent) and Tasmania (0.6 per cent).
  • 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.
  • Average residential debt levels (excluding hardship program customers) were relatively consistent with previous quarters; however both electricity and gas debt levels have continued to increase in South Australia.
  • Over the last 12 months, average small business electricity debt has increased in the ACT by 37 per cent and decreased in Tasmania and NSW by 31 and 10 per cent respectively. The average small business electricity debt decreased in Queensland by 26 per cent since Queensland commenced performance reporting this financial year.
  • Average residential electricity debt levels were:
    • $542 in Queensland
    • $624 in New South Wales
    • $776 in South Australia, $754 in Tasmania and
    • $850 in the ACT.
  • Average residential gas debt levels were:
    • $334 in Queensland
    • $509 in New South Wales
    • $406 in South Australia and
    • $490 in the ACT.
  • All jurisdictions, except ACT and Tasmania, reported increases in the numbers of electricity customers using payment plans to repay energy debt:
    • Around 2.8 per cent of electricity customers are using payment plans to repay debt in New South Wales. This compares with 2.5 per cent in South Australia, 2 per cent in Queensland, around 1 per cent in Tasmania and 0.5 per cent in the ACT.
  • Generally fewer customers use payment plans to repay gas debt. There are more gas customers on payment plans in South Australia (1.7 per cent) and New South Wales (1.6 per cent), followed by the ACT (0.4 per cent) and Queensland (0.3 per cent).
  • There were slight increases in the percentages of customers entering hardship programs this quarter. Hardship programs are most commonly used in South Australia, with 1.7 per cent of electricity customers and 1.3 per cent of gas customers receiving this additional assistance. In New South Wales 0.8 per cent of electricity customers and around 0.5 per cent of gas customers are on hardship programs. In Queensland 0.8 per cent of electricity customers and 0.4 per cent of gas customers are on hardship programs.
  • In Tasmania, there are now over 2,100 electricity customers on hardship programs (0.9 per cent). In the ACT, only 0.4 per cent of electricity customers and 0.7 per cent of gas customers are on a hardship program.
  • Around 18 per cent of customers (electricity and gas) that exited hardship programs were successful in completing their hardship program – a significant decrease from the December quarter. Around 59 per cent were excluded or removed for not making the agreed repayments and around 23 per cent transferred to other retailers.
  • South Australia and Queensland’s electricity disconnection numbers this quarter were consistent with the previous quarter. Residential electricity disconnections dropped 60 per cent in the ACT and 22 per cent in NSW, but Tasmania’s electricity disconnections increased 5 per cent. Residential gas disconnections increased by 13 and 4 percent in South Australia and the ACT respectively but NSW and Queensland gas disconnections decreased by 19 and 5 per cent respectively.