Consumers and small business say energy not ‘value for money’

Energy Consumers Australia has published the results of its first survey of the attitudes and activity of residential and small business consumers.

CEO of the consumer’s group Rosemary Sinclair said Australia’s first Energy Consumer Sentiment Survey will be repeated every six months, providing new insights into levels of satisfaction, confidence and the lived experience of energy consumers across Australia.

She said the survey, which was conducted in April this year, paints a picture of an energy market that is producing a mixed set out outcomes for consumers.

“While overall levels of satisfaction with reliability and services standards are high, most consumers believe they are not getting value for money for their energy services,” Ms Sinclair said.

“A high proportion of consumers do not believe the energy market is working for them and they do not expect value for money to improve in the future.

“That more energy consumers than not believe they’re getting better value for money from their banking, insurance, mobile phone and internet service providers – must focus the attention of the sector.”

Ms Sinclair said the results suggest consumers have a real appetite for new technology – particularly batteries and solar. Managing energy use and costs is the primary motivator, however, not environmental concern.

“Consumers have made a big investment in solar panels already and the number installed could in the future. There is an even greater appetite for battery storage technology with consumers reaching out for options to get control of their energy costs,” Ms Sinclair said.

Ms Sinclair said she hopes the new data will serve as a resource for a sector facing the challenges of decarbonising the system and the transition to the new digital economy.

“Although it’s now nearly 20 years since the national energy market was established, the picture about how well it is serving consumers has been far from complete,” she said.

“This survey sheds new light on what is motivating consumer decisions.”

Key findings

  • Satisfaction with reliability of electricity services is high among consumers, ranging from 70 per cent of consumers satisfied in Victoria to 82 per cent in the ACT and 61 per cent for small businesses.
  • Household consumer satisfaction with value for money of electricity services is low ranging from 2p per cent in Tasmania to 52 per cent in NSW, and 42 per cent for small businesses.
  • Consumers are around 23 per cent less likely to give a positive rating for the value for money they receive from their electricity services, compared with their mobile phone services.
  • By comparison, consumers are relatively satisfied with their gas services. Consumer satisfaction with value for money for gas services ranges from 43-66 per cent.
  • Depending on the jurisdiction, only 20-39 per cent of household consumers say the energy market is working in their interests and 36% for small businesses.
  • Consumers do not expect outcomes from the market to improve in the future.
  • There is a high level of consumer activity in the energy market: Most consumers have invested in energy efficient lighting or appliances. More than half of households either have purchased solar panels or intend to do so in the next five years. Around one in three consumers are considering household battery storage.