Complaints about high electricity price on the rise in NSW
Electricity retailers in NSW are feeling the wrath of their customers, according to the Energy and Water Ombudsman (EWON). Electricity-related complaints to the Ombudsman rose 22.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017, most of them regarding high electricity bills. In addition, over the previous 12 months, complaints about electricity retailers were up 32.9 percent.
A common theme was customers receiving a higher tariff or lower discount than promised.
EWON investigates a number of electricity billing problems, including:
- High bills or disputed accounts
- Estimated accounts
- Back-billing or catch-up billing
- Billing delays
- Errors with rebates or concessions
Electricity prices in the media spotlight
Ombudsman Janine Young said her organization is hearing from a range of customers who had previously not complained.
“One of the factors perhaps contributing to the increase in complaints could be the increased media and regulatory spotlight on energy, retail pricing, and affordability,” she said.
“Retailers need to respond quickly when that occurs, and resolve complaints – without customers needing to seek EWON’s assistance.”
Ms. Young said retailers “had a great opportunity” to build customer confidence in the sector.
Electricity cost linked to gas price
The EWON report comes a week after an analysis of rising electricity prices claimed gas costs are the cause. According to a report from the McKell Institute, NSW households could be paying $660 more for electricity by the end of next year unless wholesale gas prices come down.
The report found gas-powered electricity generation was costly due to high prices for Australian gas exports. Domestic gas use for electricity is also increasingly used in place of coal.
Added to this is the cost of maintaining the distribution network. According to the Clean Energy Council, this accounts for 48 percent of retail electricity costs.
Solar: the prudent alternative to high electricity bills
As complaints about high electricity costs increase, more households and businesses are looking to solar power as an alternative.
But while the desire to shop around for a solar system quote may be high, the process can be daunting. In fact, some local councils have special programs offering advice on how to install solar, and even financial support. Many councils have partnered with accredited solar installers like Energy Matters.
Then there are community energy saving organizations like Positive Charge. Positive Charge provides advice, services and products to households, businesses, schools and community groups in NSW and Victoria.
As electricity prices increase, councils, community organizations, and installers have a role to play in making solar accessible to everyone.