‘Disappointing’, pretty much sums up how I would describe the outcomes of the Prime Minister’s price talks with the major energy retailers yesterday.
‘Wasted opportunity’ might be other words I’d use. Because I fail to see how introducing added layers of compliance such as those proposed by the PM and the big retailers, is going to actually solve the fact that in NSW alone more than 100,000 residential customers can’t pay their bills and have an average electricity debt of more than $500.
Energy must be accessible and affordable for everyone. And in my view, solving that particular problem starts with the way we currently generate energy in this country.
The ‘4 commitments’ by the big retailers will place an unnecessary administration burden and compliance cost on smaller retailers, many of whom are already doing the right thing by their customers, on shoestring operating budgets and with limited manpower.
The ‘4 Commitments’ don’t address the systemic problems faced by the industry which stem from a lack of rigorous control over the way generators operate – which is widely acknowledged as directly affecting energy prices.
Nor do they go anyway towards facilitating innovation and competition.
Ingenuity is what Australia was built upon. It’s the Government’s role to champion an efficient industry that thrives on healthy competition, by actively encouraging small companies, like Enova Energy, rather than hindering them. These smaller start-ups have nimble, responsive, business models and clever ideas about how energy supply and energy distribution can be done differently, at a community level.
Australia needs a robust energy marketplace that’s not dominated by one or two players. Because such a market would deliver greater transparency for customers and more choice.
The game is changing, but the current playing field is far from level and consumers are suffering. Yesterday’s talks do nothing to change that fact.
The Government needs to stop procrastinating and start to nurture Australia’s transition to renewables too … because it’s happening anyway.
We’re already seeing a groundswell of smaller energy companies harnessing renewables like solar, wind and biofuels, and creating customer-centric supply and distribution channels.
It would be a disaster to see these companies fail over mandated administration and compliance that will do little to actually curb rising prices.