ACCC review confirms electricity market not working for consumers

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July 11, 2018

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) has called on Australian governments to take strong action to bring down electricity prices and restore consumer confidence following the release of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Retail Electricity Pricing Inquiry Final Report.

The report finds that consumers are paying for unnecessary costs at every level of the electricity supply chain, and supports PIAC’s view that NSW average household energy bills can – and should – be 25% lower by 2025.

‘We welcome the ACCC’s report, which reveals a situation that is unsustainable, unaffordable and unacceptable for consumers,’ said PIAC’s Energy Policy Team Leader Craig Memery.

‘Households and businesses are paying for concentration, inefficiency and uncertainty in the wholesale market, along with over investment in network infrastructure that they never asked for.’

‘Australian governments, regulators and businesses must now act to fix the National Energy Market and ensure better outcomes for consumers.

‘Australians are paying too much for their electricity, particularly vulnerable consumers who are disengaged from the complex retail market. Governments must acknowledge that energy is an essential service, not a luxury item, and ensure that vulnerable consumers no longer bear the brunt of high prices.

‘Currently, discounted retail offers are available to the most highly engaged consumers who are able to pay every bill on time, at the expense of those who are disengaged and struggling to manage household expenses’, said Mr Memery.

The Australian government should adopt the ACCC’s recommendations to ensure discounting in retail contracts is simple, fair and does not act as a disguised late fee.’

‘The report’s recommendations for wholesale markets and networks are key’, said Mr Memery. ‘In particular, PIAC supports a new mechanism to bypass energy retailers who block demand response and the renewed focus on the size of network asset bases. PIAC agrees that writing down these assets would be an effective way to reduce prices for consumers’.

‘The Australian government should adopt the ACCC’s recommendations so that all consumers receive fair and reasonable access to electricity.’

Media contact: Gemma Pearce, Media and Communications Manager, 0478 739 280.

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