On 12 January 2016, the Economic Regulation Authority (ERA) published its Annual Performance Report for Energy Retailers. The report covers three areas of customer interaction with their energy retailer(s):
- affordability – on-time billing and assistance with paying a bill;
- access to a supply – disconnections and re-connections; and
- customer service – complaints and telephone service.
In 2015, the ERA reports an increase in competition for contestable electricity customers in the South West Interconnected System (SWIS) with a fall in Synergy’s customer base by 12% and an increase in the customer bases of Alinta Energy and Perth Energy of 29.5% and 59%, respectively.
Following the entry of Kleenheat Gas into the gas market in March 2013, its customer base has continued to grow and in 2015, residential customers grew to 47,353 (7% of the total) and non-residential customers grew to 871 (9.7% of the total).
Electricity disconnection rates were relatively unchanged from 2014. However, the ERA reports that gas disconnections have increased with the residential rate up 45% in 2015, from 1.55 per 100 customers in 2014 to 2.25 per 100 customers in 2015. This reflects increases in disconnection rates for all three energy retailers (Alinta Energy, Kleenheat and EGDC). WA’s total residential gas disconnection rate (2.25 per 100 customers) was much higher than the three other states that the ERA was able to benchmark against. These were New South Wales (0.62 per 100 customers), South Australia (1.12 per 100 customers) and Victoria (1.20 per 100 customers).
A more modest increase was reported for non-residential gas disconnection rate, up from 1.65 per 100 customers in 2014 to 1.78 per 100 customers in 2015.
The ERA reports that gas complaint numbers are relatively unchanged from 2015 and that electricity complaints are at an all time low; 0.31 complaints per 100 residential customers and 0.26 complaints per 100 non-residential customers.
Call centre performance is summarised in the table below, Synergy and Alinta are represented as the retailers with the largest customer share in the electricity and gas markets respectively.
|Percentage of calls answered within 30 seconds||81.8%||82.4%||79.7%||81.6%|
|Average wait time before call is answered||17.8 secs||22.7 secs||20 secs||19 secs|
|Percentage of unanswered calls||1.1%||1.5%||3%||2.3%|
The ERA state that it compiles and publishes the report to:
- bring transparency and accountability to the performance of energy retail businesses that supply small use customers; and
- benchmark, where possible, performance against similar businesses in other energy markets.