We have long been concerned that vulnerable seniors will continue to experience ‘fuel poverty’ as energy prices rise faster than the rate of inflation, and we are aware that some can feel ongoing pressure to ration their energy usage to the detriment of their health and wellbeing. Many older Queenslanders do not understand the energy marketplace and the increasing move towards internet-based information for many services also creates issues of access for a large cohort of older consumers.
We are also concerned that regional Queenslanders do not have the same opportunities to seek better value and lower prices from their electricity supplier and that people in retirement villages, caravan parks, manufactured home estates and unit complexes which provide energy to residents through embedded network arrangements do not have the same choices, rights and protections as other customers.
We advocate for continued education for consumers to ensure that ongoing support is available to older people to understand and navigate the energy market, and to access supports and advocacy. We have also called for the provision of energy concessions and rebates that are adequate, accessible and appropriately targeted.
We have asked for greater consumer protections including action to facilitate choice for regional and embedded network customers, extension of the Energy & Water Ombudsman Queensland’s (EWOQ) services to embedded network residents and the establishment of an independent, well-resourced energy consumer body.
Looking ahead, the Australian Energy Market is transforming, and it is essential that energy is affordable for older consumers, and that they are able to participate and share in the benefits offered by new markets, products and services. This will only occur if their information needs are adequately met, and their specific requirements and characteristics are identified and addressed in the design and development of the new market arrangements, products and services.
What we are doing
Led by Board member Robyn Robinson, COTA Queensland is involved in a number of advisory groups and councils relating to energy services in Queensland. These include the:
- Energy Queensland Customer Council
- Powerlink Customer Council
- Energy & Water Ombudsman Advisory Council
- Queensland Competition Authority Customer Advisory Committee
- Department of Energy & Water Supply Customer and Industry Reference Group and
- QCOSS Essential Services Working Group
COTA Queensland is a participant in the national COTA Energy Advocacy Group, which is represented in the Australian Energy Regulator’s Customer Consultative Group, and the National Consumer Roundtable on Energy.
We use these and other forums to gather information, keep informed, and advocate for the interests of older energy consumers. We make submissions and contribute to discussions around Regulatory Resets, reviews of energy legislation, reviews of concessions, and future planning for energy supply.
Find more information
Do you have an issue you can’t resolve with your energy, gas or water supplier? The Energy and Water Ombudsman Queensland (EWOQ) is a free, fair and independent dispute resolution service for unresolved complaints with your electricity, gas or water supplier.
There are a range of initiatives and protections that have been introduced for consumers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. You should speak with your provider about any assistance that might be available.