RENEWABLE energy investment in the ACT has driven down retail electricity prices, according to the ACT Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission.
The commission released a decision today (June 5), which will see a typical customer on ActewAGL’s standing offer contracts receive a 2.56 per cent reduction in retail electricity prices in 2020-21.
Senior commissioner Joe Dimasi says this is equivalent to a decline in real terms (adjusting for inflation) of 4.31 per cent.
“For the average residential household consuming about 6500 kWh per year, the expected price decrease would translate to a reduction of $43 in their annual bill,” Mr Dimasi says.
“The impact on non-residential customers ranges from a reduction of $265 per year for a large customer to $66 for a small customer.”
The average retail price decrease largely reflects falling prices in the wholesale electricity market, according to the report, which states that a key driver of the lower wholesale prices is the growth in renewable energy generation.
But, despite the fall in retail electricity prices, the commission found that many consumers could still find it difficult to pay their electricity bills, especially in the current challenging economic conditions.
“The commission encourages consumers experiencing financial hardship to contact their retailer for assistance. The commission also encourages consumers to shop around for more affordable electricity plans, including from competing retailers,” the report says.
Mr Dimasi says: “The report makes two recommendations to the ACT government to make it easier for ACT consumers to shop around for a better electricity plan.”
“First, it recommends setting a reference bill for a typical consumer to help consumers compare plans. The second recommendation is that retailers should have to tell their customers if they have a plan that could reduce a customer’s bills and ask the customer to call them for more information,” he says.
These recommendations are based on evidence that many ACT consumers find it difficult to compare offers, mainly due to the large number of offers and tariff types, the discounting practices of retailers, and the complexity of terms and conditions in plans, he says.
The commission is also encouraging retailers to regularly tell their customers that they can visit the Australian Government’s Energy Made Easy website to check whether there is an even better offer available from another retailer.