Government-owned retailer could lower bills for SA

lightbulb, DMO

A South Australian government-owned retailer could reduce power bills for people on low-incomes currently locked out of accessing clean energy, according to Solar Citizens.

The recommendation comes from the Repowering South Australia report, written for Solar Citizens by founding director of the Community Power Agency, Nicky Ison.

The retailer, dubbed ‘PowerAccess’, would operate on a not for profit basis and act as an energy services company to supply electricity and other energy services, such as energy efficiency upgrades and solar PV, to people on low incomes across South Australia.

“For too long, people on low incomes have been locked out of the transition to clean energy,” Ms Ison said.

“Establishing a publicly-owned, non-profit retailer would give the South Australian government the means to support the people who are struggling to pay their energy bills with affordable and clean electricity.”

Ms Ison suggested the retailer could become the default retailer for people in public housing and could eventually service customers currently on concession schemes.

“Making a publicly-owned retailer the default for public housing tenants could support tenants to access solar and storage unlocking potential innovations like a virtual power plant on public housing,” she said.

The policy is based on a similar model operating in Scotland that is set to expand following a recent announcement from the Scottish First Minister.

The proposal has been welcomed by Uniting Communities advocacy and communications manager Mark Henley, who said vulnerable South Australians are often ignored in the energy debate, despite being the most harshly affected.

“A dedicated non-profit retailer operating in the public interest could help correct this,” Mr Henley said.

“Similar models are operating and being expanded in Scotland and doing this in South Australia could unlock cheaper and clean power for those who are currently missing out.”

Solar Citizens plans to make the establishment of a publicly-owned retailer a key ask of politicians ahead of the March 2018 South Australian election.