The Greens back the Solar Citizens’ plan for a state owned energy retailer to service low-income earners, ensuring that power is accessible for all.
Power prices have been pushed out of reach for many South Australians, particularly those who are doing it toughest. The standard response to this from many, including the Prime Minister, is simply to shop around for the best deal. But this is just not a practical solution for many. Those who struggle on low incomes cannot afford to shop around and will never qualify for those pay-on-time discounts.
Perversely, people on higher incomes are far more likely to qualify for discounts and receive a much better deal on their energy bills. It shouldn’t cost more to be poor.
We must act now to ensure that those on the lowest incomes can access power. While short-term interventions may reap immediate benefits, the only way to achieve stable, ongoing access to energy is through a publicly owned retailer.
Rather than tell people living in poverty to shop around, we can provide a one-stop shop that doesn't rip them off. This is the kind of innovative thinking required to ensure that South Australia is a place that values social and economic fairness.
The Greens believe that:
- Access to energy is a basic right to which all in our community are entitled, regardless of income;
- Essential services such as energy must work for the good of all South Australians, not just the wealthy ones;
- It is grossly unfair that low income earners effectively pay a ‘poverty premium’ through an inability to shop around or qualify for discounts;
- There must be a long term solution to ensure that people on lower incomes are not left out in the cold by prohibitive power prices;
- The current energy market is failing South Australians, particularly those living in poverty, and it is the role of government to intervene.
The Greens will:
- Establish PowerAccess, not-for-profit, publicly-owned Energy Service Company and retailer specifically for low-income households;
- Provide support for vulnerable households to access energy efficiency and other local energy measures like solar, as recommended by the Finkel Review.