Governments Called to ‘Step Up’ to Ensure a Consumer-Focused Energy Future

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Energy Consumers Australia (ECA) newly released report, Stepping Up: A Smoother Pathway to Decarbonising Homes (available here), has called on local, state/territory, and federal governments to collectively ‘step up’ and ensure everyone in Australia is supported and enabled to go all-electric. The policy report is based on research by CSIRO and Dynamic Analysis which has increased our understanding on the shared and individual costs of electrification for consumers.

As outlined in the Stepping Up and the ECA’s media release (available here), the benefits of going all-electric are two-fold: It will improve Australia’s clean energy usage and further limit our fossil fuel emissions, and it is more cost-effective. With the danger from increasing extreme weather events associated with climate change, the government’s commitment to its 2030 emissions reduction target, and the air quality of our cities (Darwin’s air quality is 2.2 times higher than the World Health Organisations guidelines) the argument for clean energy is clear. Additionally, all-electric households typically spend less than households that use gas and that gap in costs is expected to increase up to $2,250 per year by 2030 – without solar power or a battery. In the current cost-of-living crisis there is huge incentive for consumers everywhere in Australia to go all-electric. However, though it is financially beneficial in the long-term, many consumers are unable to transition to all-electric due to the initial upfront costs of electrification – and that’s without including the addition of solar panels and batteries which would further reduce long-term costs and increase clean energy usage.

It is with these upfront costs, the improving but still sparse-in-places infrastructure around full electrification (including EVs), and the information to know when and how to electrify that government at all levels would and should be most helpful. With the hurdle of initial electrification costs, the on-going drain of higher energy bills, and knowledge gaps around electrification and energy usage it will be incredibly difficult for all Australian households, and relevant businesses, to go all-electric.

Now, Energy Consumers Australia is calling for a national plan for households to go all-electric. The three key points for ECA’s proposed consumer-government partnership are:

  1. Support consumer agency: Households need the right information at the right time from a trusted source that is clear, and in their language, to empower them to make decisions that are right for their situation. 
  2. Financial support: The transition will be costly for some consumers. At the very least, funding is needed to support electrification of Australia‚Äôs most vulnerable households. 
  3. Structural policies to enable change: Government policies are needed that enable, or potentially mandate, the changes required to make sure the necessary infrastructure and processes are in place to help all households electrify. 

From the ‘Stepping Up’ report,