TasCOSS MEDIA RELEASE: Consumer and business advocates call for fairer electricity prices

22 April 2022


Advocacy groups say more than $20 million in electricity charges could be saved, providing relief for Tasmanians struggling to pay high energy bills in the midst of a cost of living crisis.
 
TasCOSS, Tasmanian Small Business Council (TSBC) and Council on the Ageing (COTA) Tasmania have made submissions to the Office of the Tasmanian Economic Regulator’s (OTTER) price investigation process, identifying savings and efficiencies that could flow through to lower electricity prices for consumers and small businesses.
  
TasCOSS CEO Ms Adrienne Picone said their submissions were focussed on ensuring the needs and concerns of households and small businesses are at the forefront of the Tasmanian Economic Regulator’s decisions.
 
“Thousands of Tasmanian households and businesses are in worsening financial positions because of escalating costs,” Ms Picone said

“The recommendations we have put forward have the potential to save Tasmanian households and small businesses up to $77 per year on their electricity costs.
 
“The Regulator has a prime opportunity to deliver more affordable and competitively priced electricity that will support households to maintain healthy homes, a decent standard of living and small business to thrive.”
  
TSBC CEO Mr Robert Mallett said due to the lack of market pressure in Tasmania, the Regulator has an important role to play in ensuring Tasmanians pay no more than necessary for their electricity.
 
“We have looked at retailer costs and margins on the mainland and noted these have been falling in recent years, whereas in Tasmania Aurora Energy’s costs have been increasing,” Mr Mallett said.
 
“OTTER is proposing an efficiency dividend be applied to Aurora each year for the next three years to account for the productivity improvements other retailers are achieving.
 
“The retail margins of mainland retailers have been slashed due to strong competition, whereas Aurora’s have remained stubbornly high at more than twice the mainland average.”

COTA Tasmania Acting CEO Ms Deb Lewis said there was agreement the additional $40 annual product fee for aurora+ is a barrier for many Tasmanians and should be removed. 

“Replacing the existing inefficient and costly forms-based web access available to consumers with aurora+ would deliver cost savings to Aurora,” Ms Lewis said.

“The Regulator’s draft report clearly identified consumers with digital literacy and digital access benefit from improved control over energy usage and costs.

“Providing free access to aurora+ for many more Tasmanians will permit them to improve their energy efficiency and reduce their energy bills.”

Ms Lewis added that along with the free provision of aurora+ there remains a need for the Tasmanian Government to address the digital divide which is increasingly disadvantaging many Tasmanians who have neither the skills or opportunity to access digital products such as aurora+, even when they are provided at no cost.

For more information, please refer to the Regulated Price Determination Fact Sheet (PDF, 235KB).

Ends

To arrange an interview:

  • Adrienne Picone, TasCOSS: Cameron Allen, 0419 769 253 or via email
  • Robert Mallett, TSBC: 0408 144 884 or via email
  • Deb Lewis, COTA Tasmania: (03) 6231 3265 or via email