Why is the Commission undertaking an Inquiry into Retail Energy Prices?

    The Minister for Energy and Mining has referred the matter of retail energy prices to the Commission to conduct an Inquiry.

    What does the Essential Services Commission of South Australia do?

    Under the Essential Services Commission Act 2002 the Commission has the primary objective of the ‘…protection of the long-term interests of South Australian consumers with respect to the price, quality and reliability of essential services.'

    The Commission undertakes economic regulation in the water and sewerage, electricity, gas, maritime and rail industries, provides advice to local councils under the Local Government Act 1999 (a new function commenced on 30 April 2022), provides advice to the South Australian Government on economic and regulatory matters and conducts formal public inquiries.

    What role does the Commission have in energy regulation in South Australia?

    The Commission issues licenses to participants in the energy supply industry in South Australia for generation, transmission, distribution and retail (limited to retailers not connected to the national electricity market) – they have to demonstrate that they are safe and compliant with SA laws. The Commission monitors and reports on their performance and if they comply with their obligations. For more information about electricity go to ESCOSA – Electricity Overview and for more information about gas go to ESCOSA – Gas Overview.

    The Commission monitors and reports energy retail price offers available in the national energy market in South Australia.  For more information go to ESCOSA – ENERGY OFFER COMPARISON.

    The Commission also administers the Retailed Energy Productivity Scheme (REPS) which provides incentives for South Australian households and businesses to save energy.

    Why are energy prices going up?

    There are a number of factors that could potentially contribute to energy prices increasing, such as:

    •  the war in Ukraine impacting the international costs of energy
    • variation in supply
    • variation in demand
    • supply chain interruptions (eg on availability of coal)
    • structure/regulation of Australian gas and coal export markets
    • structure of domestic gas and electricity markets

    This inquiry has been requested by the government of South Australia to look at why energy costs are rising.

    Can the Commission reduce my energy bill costs?

    The Commission does not have a role in determining retail energy prices. Retailers update their prices which reflect the costs of wholesale electricity/gas and network services, as well as retail costs and profits. 

    What support is available for managing energy bills?

    • The Commission administers the Retailer Energy Productivity Scheme (REPS) which provides incentives for South Australian households and businesses to save energy. Retailers may offer activities and incentives to deliver energy productivity – for example discounted energy efficient lighting, water saving showerheads, hot water upgrades, air conditioner upgrades etc. For more information go to ESCOSA - REPS
    • The South Australian Government offers some concessions and financial assistance for managing energy bills, further information is available at SA.GOV.AU - Energy bill concessions (www.sa.gov.au) or by contacting the ConcessionsSA Hotline on 1800 307 758
    • Energy retailers have an obligation to to develop, maintain and implement customer hardship policies for their residential customers

    Will this inquiry result in change?

    The South Australian government has asked the Commission to conduct this inquiry under the Essential Services Act 2002. A draft report will be provided to the Minister for Energy and Mining by 1 May 2023.

    How will I know what the result of this inquiry is?

    The Commission will have the draft report to the Minister for Energy and Mining by 1 May 2023 and following the Minister’s response will respond within 14 days.