The Alternative Technology Association (ATA) supports a managed transition to cost-reflective electricity network tariffs, but believes a co-ordinated, long-term approach to educating consumers about cost-reflective pricing – involving government, industry, and community participation – is needed to manage the impact of new pricing structures.
And potential detrimental impacts on vulnerable consumers need to be identified and quantified so that they can be appropriately addressed.
In a joint submission to the Australian Energy Regulator (AER), the ATA and the Consumer Utilities Advocacy Centre (CUAC) are broadly supportive of the Victorian distribution network service providers’ (DNSPs) Tariff Structure Statements, with the following qualifications:
- DNSPs must work with retailers and the state government to ensure small customers are provided with clear and understandable information explaining how the new demand tariffs work as well as effective tools to transparently compare them with other tariff types.
- Demand tariffs automatically assigned to small customers should be transitional, with the cost-reflective component smaller to start with and increased over time.
- Vulnerable residential customers should be identified where possible and assisted with adaptation or excluded from automatic assignment to demand tariffs if material detriment is unavoidable.
- DNSPs should demonstrate via examples how their proposed tariffs wind back the inequitable cross-subsidies they are designed to reduce.
- The AER should work with distributors and retailers to conduct a customer impact study to inform future work on helping vulnerable customers transition to demand tariffs.
We also support some more innovative approaches proposed by United Energy: replacing the standing charge with a minimum demand charge, and introducing critical peak rebates in areas of network constraint.
Click here to read the ATA-CUAC submission to the Australian Energy Regulator.