Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Post-carbon tax repeal and household electricity is just as unaffordable for 1 in 8 Australians

In October 2014 Ernest & Young released its annual survey in the Customer Experience – Utilities series.

This survey explored the perceptions and experiences of over 649 electricity retail customers across regional and metro markets in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

When it looked at  energy affordability the survey found:

* Over the last 12 months, 22% of Australians paid their electricity bill late;
* One in eight Australians missed an electricity payment because they couldn’t afford it;
* The most common reason for not paying on time was due to an inability to afford the payment (60%);
* This was significantly more likely to be those located in regional areas (78% vs. 49% in metropolitan areas); and
* A common reason for an existing customer exploring a change in energy supplier is a high power bill, but 20% of potential switchers are not making the change because ‘it’s too difficult’.

A compilation of the survey report graphics illustrating energy stress was published by ABC News on 13 October 2014:

The Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW (EWON) 2013-14 annual report media release stated:

Affordability problems were also reflected in a 32% increase in complaints arising from completed disconnections. “This picture of strained consumer circumstances is consistent with both the increased number of complaints we received from customers who were denied payment plans, and very high rates of disconnection in NSW generally”.

The Ombudsman also reported a 28% increase in affordability related complaints in 2013-14.

No wonder Prime Minister Abbott has gone quiet on the subject of affordable electricity bills and won’t be waving any in front of assembled MPs or media cameras any time soon.

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