Exasperated with high electricity prices, Aussie homes & businesses go solar & mull batteries

A new survey has found that Australian households and small businesses are sick of high and unpredictable electricity prices and have lost faith in the ability of the key market players and regulators to fix the problem – so they are taking matters into their own hands.

Results from the Energy Consumer Sentiment Survey 2016 were published last week by by Energy Consumers Australia – a not-for-profit group set by the COAG Energy Council “to advocate on energy market matters of strategic importance and material consequence for energy consumers.”

It found that Australian energy consumers were least satisfied with value for money of electricity services.

“Most consumers believe they are not getting value for money for their energy services,” said ECA chief Rosemary Sinclair in an emailed statement to One Step Off The Grid on Monday.

“A high proportion of consumers do not believe the energy market is working for them and they do not expect value for money to improve in the future.

“That more energy consumers than not believe they’re getting better value for money from their banking, insurance, mobile phone and internet service providers – must focus the attention of the sector.”

The survey also found that while consumers felt confident in their own abilities to choose the right energy products and services for their needs, they were  less confident that they had all the information available to help them make these decisions.

“The fact that consumers have faced very significant price rises in the last few years, but haven’t seen a noticeable improvement in customer service or reliability would certainly seem to be leaving people with a scepticism about the market,” said Sinclair.

“The survey also suggests that there are barriers that stand in the way of people making choices that are the source of frustration.

Finally, the survey found that people were investing in – or planning to invest in – technologies like rooftop solar and battery storage, with or without subsidies.

In fact, according to the ECA, the proportion of households with rooftop solar and/or solar hot water could double in most states and territories, based on people’s responses.

In Victoria, for example, 17 per cent of people surveyed said they have rooftop solar panels at the moment, while 38 per cent said they were considering getting it in the future. In South Australia, 32 per cent said they had it, 36 per cent said they were considering it for the future.

On battery storage, the survey’s findings reflected “solid interest” in the technology, especially, as has been predicted, among those households with solar panels.

As much as 36 per cent of respondents considering battery storage already had solar panels. 60 per cent of respondents who were considering getting solar panels were also considering getting battery storage. While more than half, 53 per cent, of those who already had solar panels said they were considering battery storage.

© 2016 Solar Choice Pty Ltd