The St Vincent de Paul Society, in conjunction with Alviss Consulting, has been tracking changes to residential energy tariffs and reporting on household impacts since 2010.

Initially the Tariff-Tracking project only covered Victoria but has since expanded to include New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory.

The rationale for tracking changes to domestic energy prices has been to document price increases, analyse market developments and inform the broader community about bill impacts and potential savings to be made.

In our view, there is still a limited knowledge and understanding in the community of the various energy tariffs available, how they are changing, and how tariff changes impact on households’ energy bills and energy affordability more broadly. Only by improving this awareness and understanding can we ensure that the regulatory framework (for example, in relation to price information and disclosure) is adequate, and promote a competitive retail market.

Furthermore, this increased knowledge will allow for close monitoring of the impact price and tariff changes have on households’ bills, and the affordability of this essential service. In addition, a key aim of this project has been to document and analyse price and product developments a rising from government policies and industry innovations, including the deregulation of retail prices, ‘green policies’, smart meter rollouts and transitions towards other smart grid developments.

This paper is the result of a comparison of the state by state-based analyses undertaken as part of the Tariff-Tracking project, as well as reflections on the public debate on energy market developments and reasons for price increases over the last year.

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