A Victorian electricity retailer is offering Melbourne households unlimited electricity supply for 12 months at one fixed price, in a bid to eradicate what it describes as consumers’ “biggest gripe” with energy companies – bill shock.
The year-old company, Sumo Power, said in a media release on Tuesday that its newly launched ‘All You Can Eat’ product was a first of its kind to be launched to the general public, enabling both new and existing customers to use uncapped power.
Origin Energy launched a similar product in March covering both gas and electricity – it’s fixed price “Predictable Plan” – however, the offer is exclusive to existing Origin Energy customers.
Not unlike Origin, Sumo decides on an annual fixed price for a customer by looking at their recent electricity usage, asking “a few simple questions”, and using this information to forecast future usage over a 12 month period.
As well as targeting “bill shock”, the Sumo product also claims to “eradicate” bills altogether, replacing them with one “statement” which can be paid for either annually, biannually or quarterly.
Both the Origin and Sumo offers are part of a shifting approach to billing by retailers, built around the recognition that customers are feeling angry about constantly rising electricity prices and powerless to do anything about it.
Indeed, Sumo’s founder Domenic Capomolla says his company was “born through a shared distaste of current energy providers and a need to align with customer’s wants and needs.”
“We started Sumo Power because we hate electricity companies too and feel the Australian energy sector needed a good shake up – a company prepared to give real customer service and offer products that customers want,” he said.
But the fixed price approach to this problem has been criticised by some in the industry as failing to address the real issues behind Australia’s soaring electricity prices, and for sending the wrong message to consumers about consumption.
Capomolla has a different view: “Bill shock is the single biggest customer gripe in the electricity market. In the vast majority of occasions the bills are correct, but people are just so busy they don’t realise they’re using more power,” he said.
“At the helm of Sumo Power is a group of energy experts who have been in the industry for a long time; they had big corporate gigs but weren’t satisfied and wanted to do something different, so we’re all really excited to be launching a product like this.
“Offering unlimited power will of course come with risks and we have measures in place to mitigate these risks but ultimately, people’s behaviour won’t change just because they have unlimited power,” he said.
Sumo says it will also begin rolling out ‘green’ initiatives over the coming months, including halogen down light replacement and rooftop solar installation, in a bid to educate home owners about energy usage as well.