Consumer watchdog cracks open energy data market for players like Buddy
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Special report: The consumer watchdog’s electricity report — which found consumers were paying too much and should be given control over their data — could crack open the energy data market for emerging energy monitors.
The ACCC’s Retail Electricity Pricing Inquiry report released last week was a damning reprimand to legacy companies which have used — according to the competition regulator — consumers’ lack of information against them.
The report pointed to confusing methods of communicating already complex energy usage data and discounts.
This put people at a disadvantage when it came to dealing with power providers and was part of the reason for spiralling energy bills.
For example, the report found that 37 per cent of Australians hadn’t searched for a better offer in five years and were likely paying a ‘loyalty tax’ to their retailer because they’d lost sign-up discounts.
Giving Australians their data back
Among the watchdog’s 56 recommendations was a call for consumers to have better access to their own consumption and price data.
“Consumers and their authorised representatives should have access to at least historical consumption data, product data, meter data and customer data,” the regulator said.
“If a retailer chooses to advertise using a headline discount claim it must calculate the discount from the reference bill amount published by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER).
“Conditional discounts should be no higher than the reasonable savings that a retailer expects that it will make if a consumer satisfies the conditions attached to the discount. Retailers should bear the onus of substantiating that the conditional discount is reasonable.”
Whether these recommendations are adopted or not, consumers are already becoming more aware of the issues around energy, thanks in part to eye-watering quarterly bills and reports like the ACCC’s.
The ‘awareness’ opportunity
But while consumer awareness has risen rapidly over the last 10 years, the system itself is changing glacially.
This is where a market-based approach from a small but rising cohort of companies may be able to bring about some change to the system.
These are companies which can not only provide real-time data on how much energy is being used, but also where and when.
Companies such as Buddy Platform (ASX:BUD) are at the forefront of that rising awareness.
They provide an Internet of Things (IoT) monitoring system for commercial, industrial and apartment buildings using software and Internet-connected hardware.
Operators are able to see where the highest use is and take steps to reduce consumption, without waiting for a quarterly bill.
It is one of the oldest listed energy management companies on the ASX — yet only listed in 2015, which speaks to how new this part of the energy market is.
But it’s a market that’s rapidly gaining traction.
The Energy Efficiency Council has been reporting for over 12 months that businesses around the country are looking into energy efficiency and demand management as a way to mitigate energy market volatility.
Governments across the country are aware that bringing down demand is one way to resolve politically-sensitive power bills as well as reduce overall consumption.
And the CSIRO in June launched its own Energise app asking “citizen scientists” to collect their usage data in order to help plan for periods of peak demand, while also making recommendations on how to bring down energy use.
As businesses and consumers become more aware of not only their power use but the fact that they have the ability to control it, demand for services likes Buddy’s will only grow.
This special report is brought to you by Buddy Platform.
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