26 February 2016

The Baird Government has successfully challenged a decision by the independent regulator to lower electricity bills that would have saved more than $6 billion for NSW households and businesses.

In an extraordinary move by the Government, the independent Australian Energy Regulator’s (AER) pricing determination was appealed in the tribunal, with the Baird Government fighting against price reductions which would have cut average household bills by between $190 and $338 a year. Small businesses were forecast to receive an average cut of $559 from their annual bill.

The decision handed down today by the Australian Competition Tribunal effectively sends the AER back to the drawing board.
Not-for-profit consumer advocate PIAC put up a brave fight in defence of NSW families and households, but they have been outmuscled by the Baird Government’s legal juggernaut.

In November 2014, the Minister for Resources and Energy, Anthony Roberts, proudly proclaimed in response to the draft AER determination:

“The continuing downward path of electricity prices shows once again that Mike Baird is the man you can trust to keep the lid on cost-of-living pressures.”

Yeah right.

Even the Australian Competition Tribunal observed [at paragraph 1205 of its judgment]:

“Obviously, from the price perspective, the present issues raised by Networks NSW are not intended to reduce the price for the provision of electricity.”

Opposition Leader Luke Foley today said, “Today the government is celebrating because they have won a court case to stop power bills from going down.

“I can’t wait to see nice guy Mike explain this.

“The Liberals have fought in court to charge NSW families and businesses billions more for electricity.

“This is a victory for the big end of town at the expense of mums and dads, and it’s all thanks to Mike Baird.”

Shadow Energy Minister Adam Searle said, “Premier Baird is focussed solely on achieving the highest sale price for the electricity network no matter the cost to families and businesses.

“The Government has spent millions on top-end lawyers as part of the court challenge, outmuscling the not-for-profit consumer advocate PIAC.”