QCOSS has made a submission to the Queensland Productivity Commission on its Draft Report – Electricity Pricing Inquiry. In our submission we focus on the recommendations which are specifically targeted at minimising the impact of electricity prices on vulnerable and disadvantaged Queenslanders.
Overall, the immediate priority for a strategy to support vulnerable consumers in the electricity market should be with the objective to minimise electricity debt and disconnection. This is best achieved through measures that address the factors impacting affordability, including price, consumption and income, and assisting people to overcome informational barriers.
Additionally, as the market evolves and emerging technologies create new opportunities and shift traditional sources of supply, it is imperative to ensure that these opportunities are accessible for low income households to ensure the energy market does not exacerbate disadvantage for vulnerable people.
We are pleased that the Draft Report includes a number of recommendations to address the needs of vulnerable consumers in the Queensland electricity market. We particularly support the QPC’s recommendations for the Queensland Government to provide targeted support for vulnerable customers and extend eligibility for the Electricity Rebate to Commonwealth Health Care Card Holders. We believe both of these actions are long overdue in Queensland.
We also commend the QPC on efforts to identify solutions to other issues experienced by vulnerable consumers, including improving access to energy efficient rental accommodation, subsidising energy efficient appliances for low income households, protecting vulnerable customers from the impacts of tariff reform, and facilitating their access to and participation in the competitive market.
We believe the QPC should take a broader and longer term view of what it means to be a vulnerable consumer, what barriers exist that make consumers vulnerable and what possible solutions might address those barriers. Well-targeted and adequate concessions are likely to be only part of the mix of approaches necessary to support vulnerable consumers to effectively participate in the market.
From the perspective of a vulnerable consumer, issues associated with deregulation, energy efficiency, tariff reform, retail competition and emerging technologies are all related, and therefore the approach to support and engage vulnerable consumers in the market must be coordinated across these areas.
Read the full submission here.
Joint submission with CCIQ
QCOSS has also contributed to a joint submission with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) which addresses issues that impact all consumers.
For this joint submission we focus on the causes of high electricity prices in Queensland over recent years, the likely drivers into the future, and measures to reduce prices.