Electricity bills unaffordable for 1 in 8 Australians

News posted on 11.08.2014

Abc.net.au has reported (13/10/2014) on a recent Ernst & Young survey that looked at how consumers were coping with rising energy costs.  It found that one in eight Australian households cannot afford to pay electricity bills.

The survey looked at households in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland and revealed that more than one in ten people have missed over three bill payments over the past 12 months.

Seventy per cent of customers were often or occasionally worried about if they could pay the electricity bill.  Earlier this month, ABC revealed that some household bills had increased by as much as $1000 over the last five years.

Jenny Young from Ernst & Young said that electricity bills are one of the key financial stressors for people.

A Senate inquiry announced by the Federal Parliament will investigate whether the gold plating of electricity networks in Australia has artificially driven up the cost of electricity.

Network costs such as maintaining infrastructure such as wires and poles are passed onto consumers and can amount to up to 60 per cent of some electricity bills.

Cameron O'Reilly, chief executive of The Energy Retailers Association of Australia (ERAA) said that hardship programs can help when customers have payment difficulties.  He said that the energy retailers are there to help with tailoring a payment plan, arranging extensions on bill payments, providing financial counselling or making sure full entitlements from government agencies are received.

The survey also found that ninety per cent of people said that they had or would consider switching over to solar energy.

Ms Young said that the opportunity to save money was the biggest reason for consumers wanting solar energy.  She said that there is significant interest in solar however many people avoid it due to the installation costs.