ACTCOSS provided comment in this letter on the proposed increase in electricity pricing set out in the ACT Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission's (ICRC) Price Determination Draft Report of 12 February 2014. ACTCOSS acknowledges that the 1.2% increase, or an additional $23 annually, is modest in comparison to previous years. However, any increase is an added burden for vulnerable households, particularly low-income earners and those in our community living with disadvantage and marginalisation.
In particular, ACTCOSS draws attention to the high number of ACT households struggling to cover the cost of electricity and gas, with around 1000 customers on hardship programs to better manage their expenditure on energy services. The lack of competitiveness in the ACT retail electricity market is also highlighted, with many households unaware of existing tariff structures or deterred by barriers such as fees and charges for switching plans and providers.
ACTCOSS calls for further expansion of these tariff structures, including off-peak arrangements that provide consumers with incentives to adjust their energy usage patterns, maximising savings as well as reducing the environmental impact of energy consumption.