This research report explores how COVID-19 is impacting electricity energy consumers in Queensland. This includes an assessment of changing energy usage and consumer behaviours and the current response by government, regulatory bodies and industry.
The report assesses the effectiveness of government and industry responses based on consumer impacts and proposes an overview of the key ways in which consumer energy vulnerability and disadvantage may be manifesting due to COVID-19.
Building on the findings from our research and analysis we present a view on the key aims that government, industry and community sector should work towards to support COVID-19 recovery, and the policy priority areas to achieve them.
Across government, industry and the community sector our actions must focus on the realisation of the following key aims:
- create systemic change;
- ensure new vulnerabilities are transient;
- support those with pre-existing hardship to create better futures; and
- destigmatise hardship and vulnerability.
The identified policy priority areas where actions are needed are:
- advocate to the federal government to maintain adequate levels of income support;
- prevent unmanageable energy debt and debt accumulation;
- unify and coordinate responses within the energy sector, putting help and trust at the centre;
- maintain engagement between retailers and customers;
- achieve cross-sector coordination; and
- build household, community and economic resilience, including through stimulus.
Stimulus expenditure creates a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to solve urgent pre-COVID-19 social, economic and environmental challenges as the basis of recovery. Energy harbors major opportunities for stimulus to support meaningful job creation, reduce cost pressures for those most in need, increase household resilience, improve health and wellbeing and move the State towards its commitments to affordable energy and net zero emissions by 2050 among others.
This report strongly recommends the Queensland government implement further stimulus in the following areas:
- largescale investment in household energy efficiency and rooftop solar PV;
- fast-track rollout of digital meters across Queensland; and
- community renewable energy for local economic growth.