ACCC to look into balance of power
Warning after COAG energy meeting
THE Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will investigate allegations of price gouging by state- owned electricity generators.
Opposition treasury spokesman Scott Emerson wrote to the nation’s competition watchdog this week, saying there was significant concern that government- owned electricity generators CS Energy and Stanwell had been using their market power to increase wholesale prices.
The LNP received a response yesterday from the ACCC chairman Rod Sims that read: “We can assure you that the ACCC will carefully consider the issues raised in your letter, along with all other material available to the ACCC. This includes documents and data provided by electricity suppliers and submissions to the ACCC.
“The issues you raised are highly relevant to the retail electricity supply and prices inquiry currently being held by the ACCC. The inquiry seeks to understand what is driving large rises in electricity prices and what can be done to mitigate these factors.”
Mr Emerson said it was clear that the watchdog had acknowledged North Queenslanders were paying too much for their electricity.
“They will investigate this price gouging that’s forcing North Queenslanders to pay too much for their power,” he said. “When I go to North Queensland people tell me they’re paying too much for electricity.
“All I’m hearing is that Labor are saying ‘ you’ve never had it so good’.
“Tell that to the people who are paying too much for power.”
The ACCC must submit its draft report to the inquiry to Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison by September 27 this year and the final report by June 30, 2018.
THE agriculture industry has warned that the energy price “crisis” is jeopardising Australia’s capacity to provide affordable food and fibre and cruelling our international competitiveness.
The warning came as federal and state energy ministers attended the Council of Australian Governments ( COAG) energy council meeting in Brisbane yesterday, and failed to deliver a clean- energy target which the Labor states claim is needed to deliver policy certainty that would allow critically needed investment.
But it did agree to the other 49 recommendations of the Finkel Review as well as establishing an Energy Security Board to oversee the health, security and reliability of the national electricity market.
“Importantly, governments will be provided with greater visibility of retail electricity prices, retail margins and factors affecting price to ensure they are in a stronger position to respond to any inappropriate market practices,’’ Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg said.
But the National Irrigators Council chief executive Steve Whan said the market was rife with price gouging of consumers by those who own the assets.
He said it was becoming so bad that the Pioneer Valley irrigation district, near Mackay, may have to mothball about $ 35 million in infrastructure because of rising costs after 2020.
“We believe that the return now for generators is more than covering their costs. There has been some gaming of the way it operates,’’ Mr Whan said.
“Even the retail margins are well above what they should be.’’
He said the excessive costs showed there was a market failure.
Queensland Energy Minister Mark Bailey said that a cleanenergy target ( CET) was critical to deliver the signals needed by the market to allow investment in new generation, increasing supply and alleviating price pressures across the country.
“The Finkel Review modelling clearly showed a CET would deliver lower electricity prices, more investment and lower emissions compared to a business as usual approach,” Mr Bailey said.
“That modelling showed households would be around $ 90 better off per year over the next decade under a CET.
“The Federal Energy Minister seems to want to keep the most important recommendation of the Finkel Review in the too- hard basket because of the internal divisions within his party which can’t reach agreement on energy and climate policy.’’