Aussies Feel the Pinch of Rising Power Costs - Survey
2 December 2013 at 3:31 pm
Electricity bills are what householders are most concerned with when it comes to cost of living, a survey by three advocacy groups reveals.
The survey on energy affordability carried out by community advocacy group Brotherhood of St Laurence, consumer advocacy group CHOICE and peak body for energy efficiency Energy Efficiency Council also revealed that householders want their State Governments to help reduce energy costs.
Damian Sullivan, Senior Manager of the Brotherhood's Equity in Response to Climate Change, said Australians have ''long supported the idea we should assist low-income households to pay for essential services like electricity and the survey shows continued support for this approach”.
“This makes sense because low income and disadvantaged households are the most vulnerable to high energy prices,'' he said.
“Along with pushing ahead with energy market reform, State Governments need to do more to assist low income and disadvantaged households improve the energy efficiency of their homes.
“Importantly, householders don’t want action for energy affordability to come at the expense of a renewable energy."
CHOICE Chief Executive Officer Alan Kirkland said the survey revealed that 84 per cent of Australian households were concerned or very concerned about energy costs, despite them spending more on other cost-of-living expenses.
"Electricity prices have risen by more than 50 per cent over the past five years, largely driven by increased costs for poles and wires, so it is no surprise that households are more concerned about electricity bills than any other cost of living," Kirkland said.
"When they try to shop around for a better deal, they find it difficult to compare the confusing array of offers from energy retailers[i].''
Nationally, 84 per cent of Australians felt it was important or very important for their State Government to help reduce energy bills.
The breakdowns were 90 per cent in South Australia, 85 per cent in NSW, 84 per cent in Western Australia and 83 per cent in Queensland and 82 per cent in Victoria.[ii]
Energy Efficiency Council Chief Executive Officer Rob Murray-Leach said households were asked whether they supported or opposed a range of actions that State Governments could take to help reduce energy bills.
"The strongest support in every state, and by a significant margin, was for State Governments to help homes and businesses save energy,'' Murray-Leach said.
"Nationally, there was a 79 per cent support for action on energy efficiency and less than two per cent opposition to it. Householders seemed to think that this was a ‘no-brainer’.''
The least popular action in the survey was reducing incentives for renewable energy such as solar power, which had a negative approval rating in every state.
Murray-Leach said there was a danger the national debate about the carbon bill meant other expenditures that have an even bigger impact on energy costs, such as poles and wires, could be ignored or overlooked.
''We call on State Governments to revitalise their work to keep energy affordable and help households cope with higher energy costs.''