The latest Victorian Energy Market Report shows while energy prices and disconnections are on the rise, significantly fewer customers experienced a planned electricity outage without being notified.
The Essential Services Commission’s quarterly update of its energy market report shows some smaller retailers are increasing their standard contract prices between five and almost 40 per cent.
The report noted that while only a small number of customers would be directly affected, the increases are a signal of market conditions.
Commission chairman Ron Ben-David says almost 3,000 customers will have to pay on average around $165 a year more for their electricity and $192 more for their gas.
“With less than one in 10 customers on standard contracts, the immediate impact will be relatively small but we will be monitoring to see the broader impact,” he said.
The latest report also shows that 12,718 customers were disconnected in the last quarter for not paying their bills. This is an increase of around 2,000 customers compared to the previous quarter.
Dr Ben-David says the 2016 inquiry into hardship raised questions about how effective energy companies were at preventing customers from building up large debts resulting in disconnection.
“This latest data shows 40 per cent of customers in retailer hardship programs had over a thousand dollars of debt when they entered into payment plans,” he said.
Dr Ben-David says helping prevent customers falling into debt to their energy customers is still a priority with work continuing on new entitlements for customers in payment difficulty.
The update, covering 1 January to 31 March this year, also shows that compared to last quarter:
One life support customer was not notified of a planned outage. The Commission is looking into this incident to ensure the distributor has processes in place to prevent it happening again.
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