Disconnections and discontent: Victoria's electricity market

7 July 2015

In the wake of rising prices and increasing disconnections, the Brotherhood of St Laurence yesterday called for an urgent review of Victoria's retail electricity market.

Retailers' charges in household electricity prices – which includes metering, billing and marketing – have risen more than 200 per cent in the past six years, according to new research commissioned by the Brotherhood and completed by economics consultancy CME. 

'In another worrying trend, as electricity prices have risen so have disconnections,' said a Brotherhood media release

In Victoria, disconnections jumped more than five times over six years, from 6,249 in 2007–08 to 34,448 in 2013–14.

'Victoria's retail electricity market is said to be highly competitive, which in theory should lead to lower prices for all households,' said John Thwaites, Chairperson of the Brotherhood's Energy, Equity and Climate Change program.

'In practice it hasn't. Our report reveals that retail charges for this essential utility have skyrocketed and are far higher in Victoria than in other states.'

Listen to John Thwaites talking on ABC radio this morning, Damian Sullivan, Senior Manager of the Brotherhood's program, said: 'In particular this hits 'battler' households on low incomes, such as pensioners.'

The high fixed charges mean that these households, which generally use less electricity than high-income households, pay much higher average prices for their power. They also spend a bigger proportion of their weekly income on energy, and it's harder to find the money for electricity price rises when you are on a small household budget."

Read the research: A critique of Victoria's energy retail market »

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