Victoria forces energy retailers to come clean

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Energy retailers will be required to advise consumers on the best energy offer available to them under strong new rules announced today by the Victorian Government.

The changes are the result of the independent review of the Victorian retail energy market commissioned by the state government to drive down energy prices for Victorian households and businesses.

The review found customers were paying too much for energy and recommended a range of measures to put downward pressure on prices, including overhauling energy retailer marketing practices to put customers back in charge.

The government has asked Essential Services Commission (ESC) to monitor and regularly report on the competitiveness of Victoria’s energy retail market and to implement several review recommendations.

ESC chairperson Ron Ben-David says the commission is proposing a fundamental shift in how energy retailers will be required to engage with their customers.

“There is now overwhelming evidence that the retail energy market is not delivering good outcomes for customers,” Dr Ben-David said.

“Our draft decision isn’t just about providing more information to customers, in reality we’re making retailers take responsibility for what happens to their customers.

“Today, we’re moving beyond simple tick-the-box regulation and implementing a new responsibility based model. It will now be up to retailers to show they can earn the community’s confidence and trust.”

The proposed changes will require retailers to offer a ‘best offer’ to each customer at least twice a year; provide advanced notice of any changes to prices, discounts or benefits; and honour a new customer entitlement to provide customers with clear advice that helps them find the best contract for them.

This draft decision by the ESC will make retailers are more transparent in their marketing practices and builds on the Labor Government’s Power Saving Bonus which has encouraged hundreds of thousands of Victorians to compare their energy deal and find a better offer.

“We’re putting Victorians back in charge, after the Liberal Government privatised Victoria’s energy retailers,” Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio said.

“These changes will force retailers to come clean with consumers who are paying too much for energy.

“We’re putting solar panels and hot water systems on more than 700,000 homes, helping more Victorians get a better deal on their power bills, and making retailers more accountable to their customers.”

The government is currently considering its final response to the independent review into the Victorian retail energy market.