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Energy bill confusion abounds for Victorian business owners


OCTOBER 8, 2019

Energy bill confusion abounds for Victorian business owners

Leading energy management firm Choice Energy says Victorian business owners are generally confused and apathic when it comes to their electricity, according to findings from a recent state-wide survey it conducted.

Choice Energy is an active participant in the energy industry and is constantly on the look-out for information and tools that will help customers use less power from the grid and pay less for it. As part of this, the business conducted a survey of Victorian business owners, to better understand the impact of energy bill shock and price rises, and the current attitude towards energy and renewables.

The survey found that cost is both a major driver and barrier to energy use and drives business behavior when it comes to electricity procurement. Almost two-thirds (63%) of business owners surveyed stated that cost savings were one of the main drivers when considering switching electricity bills, yet 30% said costs were too high and a barrier to switching to solar.

Of these businesses, less than half had considered switching their electricity retailer in the past 12 months.

A fairer go for businesses

The survey findings showed business owners do not believe they have enough easily understood information available to help them make good decisions about their energy supply or the right tools, with 66% of respondents believing power companies should be more transparent.

Among these, 35% of business owners believe electricity bills are most confusing because energy retailers prefer to keep their customers in the dark, and 31% simply feel that energy retailers don’t think about customers when they design their bills.

The CEO of Choice Energy, Christopher Dean said that state-wide we need to put confidence in business owners that the market is working in their interests.

"The confidence or trust that consumers have in the sector has taken a bit of a battering,” said Mr Dean.

"The confidence that people have is less than a lot of other grudge purchase sectors where they have to make similar choices — insurance, phone plans, and gas. 30% of business owners found electricity bills to be most confusing, followed by 21% with insurance and 17% with gas,” said Mr Dean.

Mr Dean said that businesses need help to better manage their electricity procurement and consumption, with the survey showing that half of business owners believe they pay the same or more than businesses of the same size for their electricity bill.

“We must re-build confidence in the market and empower business owners with services, tools and information, to help them get control of their energy use and costs,” said Mr Dean.

Mark Jacobsen is the Managing Director at Australia’s leading recycled plastic manufacturer, Replas.

Commenting on the survey findings about bill confusion, he said the lack of knowledge and discounts and specials are what most confuses the market.

“Most businesses are time poor and leave seemingly fixed costs alone. The Government needs to be doing more to regulate the energy market and bring down the prices of energy.

“Electricity costs are a huge barrier to growth for manufacturing in particular in Australia. It is in the Government’s best interest to create job growth and electricity plays a big part in growing a business,” said Mr Jacobsen.

Next Business Energy specialise in business only electricity from small businesses to larger multi-site businesses.

Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Pieter Double said that small to medium sized business owners face the same issues as residential customers when it comes to their electricity bills

“Retailers need to rebuild trust and get customers’ confidence back as that is the main point of difference in the industry today,” said Mr Double.

Where do Victorian businesses stand on renewable energy?

The survey found the key drivers of renewable energy use overall are cost driven, rather than environmental, with financial savings the main driver to switching to renewable energy use.

In addition, the social and reputational benefits were also a high barrier towards use, whilst uncertainty around government policy was also a major barrier: Half of survey respondents said recent media coverage of problems with solar installation in Victoria had discouraged them from considering switching to solar.

Overall, 84% were unaware that a portion of their business’ electricity bills were already funding renewable schemes, and as a result 86% of businesses said they would be more inclined to switch to solar considering they are already contributing to funding solar renewable schemes.

Mr Dean also argued bickering over the politics of energy policy was not helping customers make decisions about which deal was best for them.

Among the Survey’s Victorian State Findings are:

  • Cost is the key driver on business behaviour to extent where 30% are motivated by cost with their electricity bills, whereas only 2% would switch due to environmental reasons.
  • Regional businesses are more optimistic towards electricity prices, with 77% surveyed expecting the wholesale cost of electricity to go down within the next year due to government regulation.

Whereas, 85% of Melbourne based businesses do not think the wholesale cost of electricity to go down within the next year according to their survey.

Media interviews: Contact Sophie Mullen, Public Relations Exchange Consultant, 0404 665 542

About Choice Energy

Australian owned and operated, Choice Energy is an end-to-end energy management consultancy founded and headquartered in Melbourne with more than 8,500 customers nationwide, more recently expanding their service offering into New Zealand.

Founded in 2013, their core goal is to help businesses use less power from the grid and pay less for the energy they use.

Choice Energy is an active participant in the energy industry and is constantly on the look-out for information and tools that will help customers use less power from the grid and pay less for it.

As part of this, Choice Energy conducted a short Business Sentiment Energy Survey with 51 business owners of small, medium and large businesses.

Award wins:

  • Finalist - 2017 Australian Financial Review Fast Starters
  • Winner - 2018 ABA100 Service Excellence award winner
  • Winner – 2018 Smart Company’s Smart50 Award

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