Consumer confidence in Australia’s energy system sinks to lowest level in history

Confidence in Australia’s main electricity market has suffered its biggest collapse as the crisis affecting the East Coast energy industry hits consumers.

With one of the country’s largest energy retailers set to reveal price increases for many of its customers on Thursday, Energy Consumers Australia (ECA) has found an unprecedented drop in faith in the system.

Today, ECA, the top lobby for home and small business energy users, will release the results of a unique survey showing confidence suffered its steepest drop since measurements began in 2016.

The results follow a period of turmoil in the national electricity market, which serves more than 10 million customers in eastern states, including South Australia and Tasmania.

Wholesale electricity prices have soared to the highest levels on record amid rising fossil fuel costs, blackouts at several major coal-fired power plants and cold weather.

Lynne Gallagher, chief executive of the ECA, said confidence collapsed in June when the Australian Power Market Operator took the extraordinary step of suspending the market to keep the lights on.

‘Truly alarming’

Since then, Ms Gallagher said sentiment had continued to deteriorate as increases in household electricity bills began to bite.

“These results show that the collapse in consumer confidence that we saw in June was not a blip but a serious and ongoing concern,” he said.

“In the last month, many Australians will have received a bill from their electricity or gas retailer or a warning notice telling them how much their bill is likely to increase.

“Consumer concern has gone from being abstract to extremely real and based on real increases in actual bills.”

A suburb seen from above, with many houses with solar panels on their roofs.
Homes with solar panels have been protected from the worst of the crisis, but not everyone is so lucky.(Supplied: Symphony Project)

According to the industry body, just one in three respondents believed the system was working in their long-term interests, down from 44 percent in July.

The survey, which was conducted in August as a one-off measure to gauge the effects of the crisis, also showed that the percentage of people who felt they were getting value for money from their electricity fell from 62 percent to 53 percent during the last year. Same period.

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