Government owned non-profit retailer could lower bills & provide access to clean energy for vulnerable South Australians - Solar Citizens

Government owned non-profit retailer could lower bills & provide access to clean energy for vulnerable South Australians

A government owned, public interest retailer could be a solution to lowering power bills for people on low-incomes currently locked out of accessing clean energy Solar Citizens says. The retailer, dubbed ‘PowerAccess’, would operate on a not for profit basis and act as an energy services company to supply electricity and other energy services such as energy efficiency upgrades and solar PV to people on low-incomes across South Australia.

The recommendation comes from the upcoming Repowering South Australia report written for Solar Citizens by Founding Director of the Community Power Agency Nicky Ison.

“For too long, people on low incomes have been locked out of the transition to clean energy. Establishing a publicly owned, non-profit retailer would give the South Australian Government the means to support the people who are struggling to pay their energy bills with affordable and clean electricity,” Ison said.

Ison suggests the retailer could become the default retailer for people in public housing and could eventually service customers currently on concession schemes.

“Making a publicly owned retailer the default for public housing tenants could support tenants to access solar and storage unlocking potential innovations like a virtual power plant on public housing,” Ison said.

The policy is based on a similar model operating in Scotland and set to expand following a recent announcement from the Scottish First Minister. Mark Henley, Advocacy and Communications Manager at Uniting Communities has welcomed the proposal.

“Too often in the energy debate, the most vulnerable South Australians are ignored even though they are the most harshly affected by increasing power bills. A dedicated non-profit retailer operating in the public interest could help correct this. Similar models are operating and being expanded in Scotland and doing this in South Australia could unlock cheaper and clean power for those who are currently missing out,” Mark Henley, Uniting Communities said.

Solar Citizens plans to make the establishment of a publicly owned retailer a key ask of politicians ahead of the March 2018 South Australian election.

“It’s clear the current private retail market is ripping off South Australians and it’s hurting the people who can’t afford it the most. A public interest retailer is a sensible idea to lower bills while providing clean power for vulnerable South Australians,” Dan Spencer South Australian Campaigner with Solar Citizens said.

“Establishing a publicly owned, public interest retailer builds on the State Government’s existing trial of solar on public housing and a bulk electricity buy for people on energy concessions and the Opposition’s move to scrap retail exit fees. It’s time to put electricity services back in the public interest and make sure everyone can access the benefits of cheap, renewable energy,” Mr Spencer said.

A briefing note on PowerAccess can be read here.

For media inquiries:

Dan Spencer 0423 865 632
Mark Henley 0404 067 011
Nicky Ison 0402 034 580

Solar Citizens is an independent, community-based organisation bringing together millions of solar owners and supporters to grow and protect solar in Australia. Together, we take action to protect the rights of millions of Australians with solar to cut bills, create clean power and take energy generation back into our own hands.