Small businesses urged to pay attention with energy savings on their way
Small business customers will face potentially lower prices and clearer energy bills from July 1 though there’s a chance many operators aren’t aware of them coming or may not notice the difference, say business groups.
The default market offer policy will save small business customers up to $896 depending on their state and current energy bills through new caps to standing electricity offers, according to the Australian Energy Regulator.
The Coalition government has championed the policy as a key measure to address energy affordability for small businesses.
However, business groups say it’s likely many businesses won’t notice the change despite feeling the pressure of climbing prices.
“It’s not petty cash — but if your power bill is $70,000, it’s not going to make a big difference,” Council of Small Business Organisations chief executive Peter Strong says.
The national default market offer will apply to businesses in New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland. Victoria will have its own state managed default offer.
In a speech last week to the Energy Week conference in Melbourne, minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said the policy would be “eliminating the loyalty tax” of 800,000 consumers and small businesses.
However, Strong believes many Australian businesses “aren’t going to notice” the changes or won’t necessarily be aware they are coming.
There are more than 500,000 small business energy customers that stand to see savings, according to the Australian Energy Retailer’s decision on market offer prices.
South Australian businesses stand to gain most, at about $896, while New South Wales customers are in line for $878 in annual price reductions.
Businesses dependent on heavy power supply, including those selling fresh produce, have previously told The Age and SMH they want support beyond the default market offer, with power prices doubling over the past two years to more than $25,000 a year for some smaller retailers.
Businesses can also expect clearer advertising around energy deals from July 1, including that retailers must advertise the lowest price available for a particular offer when promoting it.
The ACCC released guidance on these new rules last week, reminding retailers that they must directly inform customers if their energy prices are changing as a result of the default market offer rules from July 1.
The next two weeks will give businesses and consumers a chance to review their current charges and compare these to newly launched pricing.
“I urge consumers to review their electricity deals after 1 July, and to shop around for the best deal,” ACCC commissioner Cristina Cifuentes said in a statement last week.
The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise ombudsman has also reminded business customers to use the ‘Energy Made Easy’ comparison site in coming weeks to check the best price available for their operations.