KPMG Australia welcomes the extensive call to action to deliver electricity affordability handed down this week in the final report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) inquiry into the supply of retail electricity and the competitiveness of retail electricity prices.
Cassandra Hogan Head of Power & Utilities at KPMG Australia said the report’s 56 recommendations should help to drive improved outcomes for consumers.
“The overarching aim of the Retail Electricity Pricing Enquiry was to frame strategies that would help improve electricity price affordability for both consumers and businesses,” said Ms Hogan. “The ACCC’s final report details wide ranging recommendations which are comprehensive in nature. They will require careful consideration by policy makers alongside the key existing aspects of the Finkel Report and the National Energy Guarantee”.
Cassandra Hogan said that Australia is in the midst of a complex energy transition following more than a decade without a clear national energy policy. She said that the Retail Electricity Pricing Enquiry’s key recommendations would go some way towards helping to reshape the way electricity is delivered in the coming years however she emphasised that the National Energy Guarantee was key.
“We cannot deviate from the National Energy Guarantee in order to get the investment environment right,” she said. “We need to ensure we have sufficient generation investment to provide reliable and sustainable power supply to consumers and businesses. That is the priority together with affordability.”
Whilst the ACCC acknowledges positive progress is being made in helping with affordability, it also notes that more can be done to simplify retail prices and offers to consumers. From a consumer perspective, the issue of affordability is also complex. It requires government, industry, and the consumer sector to work together. However, Ms Hogan noted the final report does detail a comprehensive range of recommendations focused on further improving consumer experiences and outcomes.
“Transparency has always been a key principle for consumer protection and engagement in the energy sector,” said Cassandra Hogan. “Now more than ever it is critical all consumers have the information they need to make informed decisions about their energy supply. More can be done to simplify retail prices and offers to consumers.”
She said the need for clear and timely information that informs greater consumer choice and control was a key element discussed by Finkel. It is needed to bridge the gap between consumers who are highly engaged with their energy choices and consumers who are less engaged.
“This element has been reinforced by the ACCC with a range of recommendations to improve the ability for consumers to engage with the retail electricity market – including having access to the right information to make informed choices,” said Ms Hogan. “We welcome the recommendation that support for vulnerable consumers must be improved through a review of the existing concession and rebate schemes as well as hardship regulation”.
She said the way in which consumers want to use and interact with their energy retailer was also changing. In evaluating the ACCC recommendations, KPMG said it would be important to assess the impact on competition and innovation and whether the reforms will do enough empower the consumer of the future.
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