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New financial year brings new energy pain for SA households

A growing number of South Australian households are feeling the pinch of rising energy costs - at a time when energy companies are forecasting profits will double next year.

The latest analysis from the South Australian Council of Social Service shows South Australian customers, particularly those on low incomes, are among the hardest-hit in the nation by escalating energy prices.

  • South Australians have the highest average energy debt levels in the nation. Those customers in a hardship program have an average debt level of $2535, or $664 above the national average. Those customers not in a hardship program have an average debt of $1227 ($228 above the national average)  
  • The number of SA customers repaying energy debt increased by 23.4% between September 2022 and March 2023
  • Only 40.3% of SA hardship customers received energy concessions in the three months from January to March 2023, well below the national average of nearly 56%

SACOSS acknowledges both the Australia Energy Regulator's increased focus on retailers improving access to hardship and payment plan protections, as well as the Federal and State Government's recent energy bill relief package.

However, these efforts will do little in the long term if prices continue to further increase while regulators and Governments fail to take meaningful action. 

Quotes attributable to SACOSS CEO Ross Womersley

“Already in 2023 we have seen the number of South Australians repaying energy debt increasing - and this was before the beginning of the new financial year where prices were expected to again rise significantly.

"There is something fundamentally wrong with a system that allows providers of an essential service to forecast a doubling of profits while more and more South Australians receiving the service are hitting their breaking point.

"To the energy retailers, we say: stop gouging your customers with price rises. Many retailers seem to be quite open about how much profit they expect to make, but much less transparent about why all of us have to pay more in order for these profits to be realised.

"To the regulators of the energy market, we say: start doing your job. Energy companies are raking in supernormal profits due to lax regulation and oversight, and more and more South Australians are suffering as a result.

"To our Governments, we say: it's time to step up and help for the long term. South Australian households are doing it tough and need the Government's help in order to afford the energy they need. A program of Government-supported energy efficiency upgrades for homes is essential to minimising long-term power price pain." 


Published Date: 
Thursday, 6 July 2023