4 October 2017
The State Government-owned electricity provider, Essential Energy, has been caught out lying over why it went to court to fight price cuts for household and small businesses in regional NSW.
In 2015 the independent Australian Energy Regulator recommended price cuts of $313 for households and $528 for small businesses but Essential said lower prices would “compromise the safety and reliability of the network service”.
Then-Treasurer, now Premier Gladys Berejiklian, launched a legal action on behalf of Essential, Ausgrid and Endeavour to oppose the reduction in power bills because it wanted to get a better sale price in its privatisation of the poles and wires.
Now, through Freedom of Information laws, Labor can reveal that the State Government lied about its reasons for not wanting the savings to go through.
A May 2017 confidential briefing document prepared by Essential – which is 100-per cent owned by the NSW Government – admitted that if it lost the case against the regulator then the “impact of this outcome on the business today would be minimal”.
This means that customers across regional NSW face paying hundreds of dollars more for electricity for nothing.
The extra cash it takes from customers will just be pure super-profits.
Labor’s energy spokesman said the full extent the State Government’s duplicity will become clear when Essential customers start receiving higher bills.
Quotes attributable to Labor Leader in the Legislative Council and Shadow Minister for Energy Adam Searle:
“This is nothing short of a scandal; Essential and the Berejiklian-Barilaro Government said one thing in public and another in private.
“They claimed that if these price cuts went through then there would be catastrophic consequences.
“Because of this secret document we now know that this is not the case and that the only pain that will be felt is by households and businesses in the bush when they get their power bills.
Quotes attributable to Country Labor’s candidate for Cootamundra Charlie Sheahan:
“Essential and the State Government will now take nearly $2 billion more from its customers than they should have.
“People living in country and regional NSW are being fleeced by the Berejiklian-Barilaro Government.”