On 26 September 2017, the AER released an issues paper seeking feedback on ways to improve the quality and accessibility of information customers receive about energy offers.
The purpose of the issues paper was to seek information on measures to improve the clarity of information energy customers receive, with a view to making customers more confident to engage in the market and to find themselves a better energy deal.
We were particularly interested in seeking feedback on experiences in other markets or jurisdictions and evidence of where and how these options have provided benefits. Information received in response to the paper will inform a range of work being undertaken by the AER in relation to our Retail Pricing Information Guidelines, potential future enhancements to our Energy Made Easy price comparison website, and other work concerning the way customers receive information about their energy service.
The issues paper sought feedback on four key areas:
- The content and format of Energy Price Fact Sheets
- The development of a comparison rate for energy offers
- Technological solutions that facilitate simpler comparison of energy offers
- Facilitating comparison of energy offers for customers without access to technology, or whose preference is for non-online communications
Feedback was not limited to these four areas and we are also interested in exploring other ideas for enhancing the information customers use to make decisions about their energy service so that they can be more confident to engage in the market.
As part of the consultation process, the AER also convened a reference group to inform its work on improving the clarity and accessibility of information customers receive about the energy market. The reference group consists of representatives from both industry and consumer advocacy organisations.
Interested parties were invited to make written submissions on the issues paper by 31 October 2017. The submissions received were reviewed by the AER and assisted us in drafting the Draft Retail Pricing Information Guidelines.
The current version 4.0 of the AER’s Retail Pricing Information Guidelines and accompanying Notice of Final Instrument was released on 31 August 2015, and took effect on 1 February 2016.
Under the National Energy Retail Law, the AER may develop and amend Retail Pricing Information Guidelines (the Guidelines). The Guidelines aim to assist customers more easily compare standing offer prices and market offer prices offered by retailers. The Guidelines also provide direction to energy retailers about providing data and information to the AER for the purposes of our energy price comparison website, Energy Made Easy.
The Guidelines play an important role in educating consumers and empowering them to engage in the retail energy market and make more informed and efficient decisions. By specifying the manner and form in which information is presented by retailers, we aim to create a clear and consistent form of presenting important information to customers, giving them confidence in the accuracy and comparability of this information.
Version 5.0 of the Draft Retail Pricing Information Guidelines is currently open for consultation.