What has changed between our draft and final reports?
In response feedback from stakeholders, and as more data has become publicly available, we have included additional information in our final report:
- analysis of actual customer bills to complement our analysis of listed offer prices on Energy Made Easy
- further analysis of rebates and affordability outcomes, including analysis of hardship and payment plan customer outcomes
- a discussion about the Australian Government price comparator site, Energy Made Easy, including retailer conduct in relation to offers published on the Energy Made Easy website.
Overview of findings
We have found that market offer prices were mostly flat over most of 2021-22, however prices increased in May and June. By June 2022 prices were between 2 and 8% higher than they were at the same time the previous year (depending on network area and customer type (residential/business)). Between June and August 2022, residential prices further rose by up to 25%, and prices for business customers increased by up to 34%.
These price increases have been driven higher global coal and gas prices and coal-fired generation outages.
We have found that for the first time since deregulation, there are fewer retailers in the market than the previous year. One retailer left the market during the April to June 2022 quarter, and another 4 exited since July 2022. At least 3 other retailers encouraged their customers to switch retailers before 1 July, and 11 stopped taking on new customers at some point in the year.
We made several recommendations to improve outcomes for customers:
- The NSW Government should provide energy customers with clear, independent information about innovative energy retail offers that involve:
- new technologies, such as solar panels, batteries, electric vehicles, smart home devices
- service bundling, including where energy services, technology and equipment are bundled with non-energy services
- demand response schemes.
- The long-term work underway to transform Energy Made Easy into a switching service would ensure all offers live on Energy Made Easy are made available to customers (subject to published terms and conditions). However, the AER should also investigate short-term options to address this issue. This is important to support customers to be active in the market at a time of rising prices and pressure on energy bills.
- As part of its ongoing work to upgrade Energy Made Easy under the Towards Energy Equity strategy, the AER should improve Energy Made Easy data accessibility for all customers. People need better access to their own energy data uploaded to Energy Made Easy, and the energy offer information that Energy Made Easy provides, through a range of interface options.
- The NSW Government should consider options to promote awareness of current government initiatives and support programs for all customers to reduce their energy costs, transition to more sustainable energy use, and access rebates. Priority should be given to those customers experiencing vulnerability.