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New Energy Payment Research Reveals Consumer Distress

The South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS) today released research about energy payments, having surveyed 600 South Australian households by telephone. The research was conducted for SACOSS by Colmar Brunton Research.
Of the findings relating to energy prices:

  • 93% stated they would like to see a reduction in the price of electricity
  • 37% had some level of concern about their ability to pay their next electricity bill
  • 38% had some level of stress about their capacity to pay electricity bills
  • 20% left home for a cooler destination during recent heatwaves
  • 65% had some level of concern about the price of electricity during heat waves

SACOSS Executive Director Ross Womersley said,
 “Low incomes and increasing prices are among the major reasons why so many South Australians are finding they are unable to cope with the continued cycle of energy price increases. Other reasons include bigger than expected bills, unpredictable billing amounts and having a number of other bills to pay”
“Energy bills are just one element of the household budget. But the continued increases mean that this element is taking an ever larger share of the limited financial resources many people have at their disposal”
“SACOSS has been keeping a close eye on the price setting process for SA Power Networks. Networks are a huge component of the bill so it’s really important that a lid is kept on these prices. Our research indicates that consumers really want to see much more significant savings made by the network. Given what consumers are saying, we would be looking for a price decrease when SAPN submit their pricing proposal in October”, Mr Womersley said.
The research also found that trust in energy providers is at a low ebb, with 24% of consumers believing that electricity providers are not trustworthy. Of that 24%, the reasons for low levels of trust in energy provider include:

  • Energy retailers are solely profit-driven and self-serving (37%)
  • Costs always seem to be increasing no matter what (37%)
  • Energy retailers have no concern for their customers (20%)

Mr Womersley said,
“Given the low levels of trust in the industry, it is no surprise that 45% of South Australian bill payers do not believe that energy providers should have the power to cut energy supply to the household if the customer is unable to pay a bill. SACOSS has been calling for some time for an independent umpire to intervene before anyone’s power is cut off”. 

Download the full Energy Payment Research Report

Published Date: 
Wednesday, 16 July 2014