A new report released by Energy Consumers Australia (ECA), outlines that small businesses electricity bills were up in both South Australia and the ACT in April, in comparison with the same time last year. In NSW, bills also increased by about 15 per cent.
The Energy Consumers Australia’s acting CEO Lynne Gallagher announced that small businesses need a ‘relief’ from the rising costs of electricity in their businesses. Currently, there is 1 million business classified as small energy customers under various thresholds of annual energy consumption. The ‘Australian Energy Market Commission Report’ found that satisfaction in energy providers reached the lowest point observed since the survey’s inception in 2014, however from those surveyed, satisfaction with gas providers remained broadly unchanged.
“With retail electricity prices for small business either flat or falling, the competitiveness of the small business sector and jobs depend on prices coming back down to more normal levels,” commented Energy Consumers Australia’s CEO, Lynne Gallagher.
“Small business consumers are saying they want to be able to run a competitive small business, but electricity prices are making that harder and clearly this is having a negative impact across the small business sector,” she commented.
The report also found that Queensland was the only state where the bills increased less than a double-digit (4%), while average electricity bills for the typical small business fell slightly in Tasmania in the past year.
“Small businesses are telling us that trust in energy retailers has never been so low, and only one-third say the market is working in their interest,” the CEO explained. “These businesses are telling us they are doing what they can to be energy efficient, but relatively few are using technology to manage their energy use.”
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is set to review electricity prices this week, and Gallagher and the ECA are hoping for a sector-wide ‘cultural shake-up’ needed to get energy companies to become focused on providing affordable energy prices. Also, a lack of easily-understood information is also proving to be a problem to small businesses.
“Less than half of small businesses tell us there is not enough easily understood information available to them, or that they don’t have the tools they need to manage their energy use,” commented Gallagher. The Australian Energy Market Commission’s (AEMC) Chairman John Pierce AO somewhat agreed with this statement.
“Most smaller businesses are less confident about looking for the right information that suits their situation, have lower levels of trust in retailers and are less likely to invest in new technology like solar PV and batteries, especially as many occupy rented premises,” said Pierce, “rather than shopping around, more than half of these smaller businesses have absorbed the price rise themselves and not pass costs on to customers.”
“With electricity prices going up by double digits for many businesses in the past year, trust can only be re-built with consumers in this market when they start paying lower bills than they are today,” concluded Gallagher.
More information on the report’s findings can be found here.