Victorian electricity prices have risen by 10 to 12 per cent in the past year, a new study has found.
The study by the Essential Services Commission also found electricity prices increased by an average 33 per cent over the past five years; and gas by 22 per cent over the same period.
Electricity prices for consumers on standing offers increased by an average of 10 per cent, while prices for consumers on market offers increased by an average of 12 per cent.
Standing offer contracts are held by customers who have not taken up competitively priced market offers. Around one-third of Victorians remain on a standing offer for their retail electricity or gas.
However, the report also highlights the increasing competitiveness of the energy retail market as consumers shop around to save on their soaring energy bills and door-to-door sales activity increases.
More than 1 million, or 26.7 per cent, of all gas and electricity customers switched retailers last year — including more than 680,000 electricity customers and 430,000 gas customers.
The annual transfer rate was slightly lower — 1.8 per cent — than the number of customers who switched retailers in 2010-11.
The report found residential electricity customers who shopped for a competitive offer could save an average 12 per cent, or $114, on their electricity bill by switching from a standing offer to a fully discounted market offer for a single rate tariff.
Residential gas customers could save an average of 9 per cent, or $114, on their annual bill if they switched from a standing offer to a fully discounted market offer.
But a spokesman for the Consumer Action Law Centre warned consumers looking to switch retailers to read the fine print carefully.
"While consumers can make savings from switching, there are lots of hidden tricks and traps which mean that the market is very confusing and people might end up choosing and not be better off," the spokesman said.
"Most people choose a new energy deal after a door-to-door sale... People are just unable to make complex pricing decisions at their doorstep."
The average household electricity bill across the five distribution zones, based on market offers, ranged from $883 (including discounts) to $1245 for single-rate tariffs, and from $1123 (including discounts) to $1602 for two-rate (peak and off-peak) tariffs.
Average annual residential bills for gas across Victoria ranged from $938 to $1542, depending on the gas distribution zone.
Residents in West Gippsland and Mildura paid the highest prices for gas — up to $500 more in some cases. According to the report, this could be due to infrastructure costs, distance and transport costs, or limited competition within newer zones.
The Energy Retailers Comparative Performance Report - Pricing covers the period from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012, and does not include the introduction of carbon pricing.