Electricity costs us far more than it should.
So says a new report prepared by the Grattan Institute, which explains that energy prices have almost doubled in the last decade, with the energy market now “so complicated that many [people] give up” trying to find good value deals.
Energy is a rort – what a shocker! I think any person who lives in any home in Australia could have offered the same insights, without spending all of that money on a report.
I can still remember my first electricity bill. I was 21 and had moved out of home for the first time, so the act of receiving regular bills in my own name was still a slight novelty.
This was 2003 and the bill came in for the princely sum of $211 for the quarter. In the middle of summer. And I split it with my flatmate.
Yep, I paid just over $100 for three months’ worth of energy. It was manageable and affordable – just as an essential household service should be.
Fast forward to today, and my quarterly energy bills hover between $500 and $1200, depending on the time of year (airconditioning pushes the bill up significantly during the Gold Coast summer).
Why the huge increase? Because the electricity industry has been de-regulated. Give yourselves a giant pat on the back, politicians – you really screwed up big time with that decision!
As a result of de-regulation, the Grattan Institute found that “competition in electricity retailing has failed to deliver lower prices for consumers”. It goes on to suggest that governments “will need to step in and re-regulate prices if the industry does not lift its game”.
I’m a huge fan of this suggestion.
I think the energy industry should be re-regulated up the wah-zoo. After all, access to electricity in a western, modern civilisation such as Australia is a basic human right. So why on earth was it sold off as a privatised business for someone to profit from?
Energy should be managed by the government and provided as a not-for-profit service. That horse may have bolted, but we can make positive steps forward at least by regulating the mess we’re in now.