Elec­tric­ity mar­ket fix

MAR­KET OVER­HAUL MAY PRESENT OP­POR­TU­NITY FOR RE­GIONAL PRO­DUC­TION

Shepparton News - - NEWS - By Thomas Moir

The Com­mit­tee for Greater Shep­par­ton says there is a great op­por­tu­nity for Greater Shep­par­ton man­u­fac­tur­ers to get a com­pet­i­tive edge, if some of the ex­pected ben­e­fits from a rec­om­mended over­haul to the na­tional elec­tric­ity mar­ket be­come a re­al­ity.

House­holds could save more than $400 a year on power bills un­der a pro­posed ma­jor re­set of Aus­tralia’s ‘‘bro­ken’’ elec­tric­ity mar­ket.

The Aus­tralian Com­pe­ti­tion and Con­sumer Com­mis­sion re­leased its long-awaited re­port into the en­ergy sec­tor on Wed­nes­day, de­tail­ing ways to tackle sky­rock­et­ing power costs.

Busi­nesses could also save up to $750 a year, and even as much as $2250 if they shop around for the best dis­counts.

C4GS chief ex­ec­u­tive Sam Bir­rell said slash­ing en­ergy prices would ben­e­fit house­hold con­sumers as well as present lu­cra­tive op­por­tu­ni­ties for the Goul­burn Val­ley’s ma­jor em­ploy­ers and pro­duc­ers.

More than two mil­lion small and medium busi­nesses could save an av­er­age of 24 per cent on their bills un­der the ACCC’s rec­om­men­da­tions.

Com­mer­cial and in­dus­trial cus­tomers could have elec­tric­ity costs drop by 26 per cent.

Mr Bir­rell said if such de­creases came to pass, it would mark a ‘‘huge win for lo­cal pro­duc­tion’’ and the po­ten­tial for com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage in for­eign mar­kets.

‘‘Par­tic­u­larly those who are com­pet­ing against peo­ple with dif­fer­ent power in­put costs,’’ he said.

‘‘It lev­els the play­ing field, for fruit pack­ag­ing, milk fac­to­ries, with our com­peti­tors.’’

Mr Bir­rell pointed to sig­nif­i­cantly higher labour and trans­port costs in Aus­tralia com­pared with com­peti­tors.

‘‘If we have sig­nif­i­cantly higher power costs and wa­ter costs, there comes a point where you’re no longer com­pet­i­tive.’’

‘‘Any­thing that can be done to re­duce any of those in­puts while re­tain­ing qual­ity can be ben­e­fi­cial to those busi­nesses,’’ he said. ‘‘We’re prob­a­bly not go­ing to re­duce labour costs, there­fore we need to au­to­mate more, be more ef­fi­cient . . . that re­quires en­ergy.’’

Mr Bir­rell de­scribed Greater Shep­par­ton as a man­u­fac­tur­ing city and sug­gested man­u­fac­tur­ing in the Goul­burn Val­ley could be on the in­crease dur­ing the next five years.

‘‘And one of ma­jor in­puts to man­u­fac­tur­ing is en­ergy,’’ he said.

‘‘Pro­vi­sion of en­ergy is not a free mar­ket ser­vice.’’

‘‘It’s a crit­i­cal in­put to busi­ness that drives the Aus­tralian econ­omy, and in par­tic­u­lar in a man­u­fac­tur­ing re­gion such as ours.’’

ACCC chair­man Rod Sims said he es­ti­mated bills could drop up to 25 per cent for the av­er­age house­hold if the re­port’s 56 rec­om­men­da­tions were all im­ple­mented.

He said a decade of poor pol­icy de­ci­sions had caused se­ri­ous af­ford­abil­ity prob­lems for con­sumers and busi­nesses.

‘‘The na­tional elec­tric­ity mar­ket is largely bro­ken and needs to be re­set,’’ he said.

A key mea­sure would be forc­ing re­tail­ers to of­fer a bench­mark price near the mid­dle of the mar­ket.

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