Public trust in the energy industry is at an all-time low, according to the chief executive of Alinta Energy, who says retailers must do more to improve transparency in the market.
Jeff Dimery likened customer-retailer relationships to bad marriages and accused many companies of taking their consumers for granted.
"They look good in the beginning but that's not how things tend to pan out," Mr Dimery told a Committee for the Economic Development of Australia event in Sydney on Tuesday.
"We put on our best clothes and makeup to incentivise people to switch and once they have, we put our feet up and take our partners for granted. That's not a healthy, sustainable relationship."
Just days out from the COAG energy council meeting to consider the federal government's national energy guarantee (NEG), Mr Dimery said the best way to address the country's energy affordability was to focus on consumers.
"The biggest and most immediate opportunity to improve affordability is to listen and respond to customers - they will drive increased competition.
"To earn and maintain their trust we must act as their advocates in the discussions we have with governments and industry."
Some state leaders are yet to commit to the NEG which aims to bring down power prices and increase investment in the industry while improving reliability.
The Alinta boss said the industry needed to clean up its act when it came to pricing.
"One of the biggest complaints I get is the lack of transparency, people telling me that there is no way to know if you're on a good deal or not," Mr Dimery said.
"I'll acknowledge that at Alinta we're not perfect, and we have a lot more to do to deliver on a level of service, products and price our customers have come to expect."