Electricity is an essential service that is vitally important for the health and wellbeing of families and individuals. Everyone in Queensland deserves to be able to afford to cool their home, give their children a warm bath or cook a meal when they need to.
Energy Queensland are proposing new tariff structures for the regulatory period 2020-25. QCOSS believes it is important to provide a voice for residential consumers in the tariff reform process, particularly those experiencing vulnerability and those struggling to make ends meet. We have provided input on the proposed tariff structures throughout the consultation process.
Our key messages are:
- QCOSS supports the intent of moving towards more cost reflective network pricing to the extent that it will lead to better outcomes for customers.
- Cost reflective tariffs must be designed based on an understanding of customer impacts including their actual ability to control and shift their energy use.
- Customers experiencing vulnerability and those struggling to make ends meet need to be provided with support and protections to ensure that they are not worse off because of the transition to cost reflective tariffs.
- A transition phase is required to ensure that customers have time to build capacity and capability to engage, and make informed choices about participating in tariff reform.
- Underpinning this transition, the core principles of tariff design and implementation must include equity, bill stability, and simplicity.
- Energy Queensland’s appraisal matrix should be more closely based on the design principles, prioritised based on what has the most importance for customers who are experiencing vulnerability and hardship.
- To achieve this, retailers, government and the community sector must collaborate to ensure that participation by customers experiencing vulnerability and hardship is enabled through information, education and consumer protections.
- Customers experiencing vulnerability must be supported to access and use the digital technology required to get the full benefits of cost reflective tariffs.
While QCOSS continues to support the intent of tariff reform as a way to improve equity and reduce electricity costs for consumers, we will continue to work with Energy Queensland and the Queensland Government to ensure that no one is put at further risk of struggling to pay their energy bills as a result of tariff reform.