Bigger discounts, but bigger bills: Is solar energy the solution?
Article by Ben Tosi
Aussies are increasingly turning to solar solutions to solve their energy woes, with the Essential Services Commission revealing that bigger discounts in the Victorian energy market aren’t necessarily translating to smaller bills.
The latest analysis of the Victorian energy market indicated that while the discounts on offer to Aussie homeowners are growing, so are energy prices, with gas and electricty up 16% and 5% respectively compared to the same time last year.
According to Essential Services Commission chair Ron Ben-David, we’re feeling the added pressure to meet discount conditions, like paying bills on time or via direct debit and when we don’t, are faced with significantly higher bills.
“A customer who didn’t meet their discount conditions for an entire year would pay an extra $314 for electricity, an increase of 27 per cent and $189 for gas, an increase of 16 per cent,” he said.
Ben-David went on to reveal that the bill shock that comes with not meeting discount conditions lands a load of Aussies in “hardship programs” which are designed to help them better deal with ongoing energy bills.
“The number of customers in hardship programs grew to 37,935 (up 13 per cent). The average debt for someone entering a hardship program in 2016–17 was $1,241, meaning these customers are already a year behind before they start getting help.”
With bigger discounts not always translating to bigger savings, Aussies are increasingly turning to solar solutions to drive down their quarterly energy bills.
According to Green Energy Markets’ Renewable Energy Index, Aussies installed a staggering 15,225 solar systems over August - providing the most new megawatts to the grid in one month since June 2012.
The spike in solar installations over the month is estimated to power 25,559 homes and slash $180 million from energy bills across the country.
“For those who can afford the setup and installation costs, solar is a great way to trim your energy bill. But you can also make great savings by switching to a more competitive, better value plan in your state,” said Mozo Director Lamont.
And despite the price increases, Mozo data has revealed that the potential savings on offer for switching to the cheapest plan on the market aren’t just still available, but are even greater than this time last year.
“Mozo’s analysis shows the annual savings the average household can make by switching to the cheapest energy plan on the market have increased significantly over the past 12 months. This goes to show that even if you switched energy providers this time last year, there is a good chance that there is an even better deal out there,” said Lamont.