Monday, 3 March 2014

Information Disclosure 101

I've just got an e-mail from Genesis Energy, saying, "Your electricity prices are changing".
Like everyone else who gets one of these announcements, I had that sinking feeling that "changing" would be corporate weaselspeak for "going up".

But when I went through it, on a back of an envelope calculation it looks like our household is going to be pretty much all square compared to last year's prices. Our fixed daily charge is going up by a stonking 79% or so (from $1.00 a day to $1.7856) but the unit cost of our electricity is going down by just over 15% (from 21.98 cents per kWh to 18.67 cents). Eyeballing the little histogram of daily usage over the past year that came with our last bill, I reckon we use about 25 units a day over a full year, so last year's bill was about $195/month ($30 fixed and $165 variable) and this year's looks like $194/month ($54 fixed and $140 variable). Same diff.

But why on earth do I have to go through all this palaver to find out?

We have information disclosure regimes all over the damn place, and not a single one of them tells me what I actually want to know: on last year's consumption, how will my bill this year, at these new prices, compare with my bill at last year's prices?

What are information disclosure regimes for, if they aren't designed to answer the simplest consumer questions of all?

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