12 July 2018
The NSW Labor Opposition is welcoming the release of the ACCC report into restoring electricity affordability, which supports new forms of regulation to bring power bills back under control.
The landmark ACCC report backs in NSW Labor’s analysis that the retail electricity market in NSW (and Australia) is broken and not working in the interests of household and business consumers.
The competition watchdog recommends implementing several reforms, including:
- Giving the independent Australian Energy Regulator the power to set the maximum price for electricity through a default offer.
- Requiring any advertising of discounts to be unconditional and referenced to the default offer rate (making it easier for consumers to genuinely compare offers);
- Restricting conditional discounts to be no more than the reasonable savings to the retailer from the condition being met;
- A mandatory code for comparator websites so that offers are recommended based on customer benefit, not commissions paid;
- Government support for new investment by new players in generation capacity;
- Limiting companies with 20 per cent or more market share from acquiring more generation capacity (other than through building new generation capacity);
- Improving the transparency of over-the-counter contract trading by requiring reporting of these trades to a central registry; and
- Improving the AER’s powers to investigate and address problems in the market and increasing penalties for serious wrongdoing.
The ACCC estimates that the implementation of these reforms will save average households in NSW around $409 per year or 24 per cent off their current electricity bills.
Electricity prices have increased by an average of 60 per cent since the Liberal-Nationals took office in 2011, including a 20 per cent rise since Gladys Berejiklian became Premier.
For eight long years the NSW Coalition has had one energy policy – to privatise and de-regulate.
They sold the generators and distributors and they de-regulated electricity prices. Since then prices have only gone up, not down – despite their promise at the 2015 state election that privatisation would not lead to prices rises.
Quotes attributable to Labor Leader in the Legislative Council and Shadow Minister for Energy, Adam Searle:
“NSW Labor has been saying for years that the retail electricity market in NSW is broken and working against families. We welcome the findings released by the competition watchdog that supports this.
“Premier Berejiklian and her Coalition party predecessors created this mess with their mania for privatisation and deregulation of retail electricity prices, but have put forward no solutions.
“The Berejiklian Government and its Energy Minister have been asleep at the wheel, letting homes and business get crushed by ever higher power prices.
“Only a NSW Labor has a plan to deliver lower electricity prices in this State.”
For more detail on NSW Labor’s plan, see Adam Searle’s speech to the Energy Users’ Association.