ACCC says break- up on power best bet

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - STEVEN WARDILL

THE na­tion’s com­pe­ti­tion czar has urged the break- up of Queens­land’s state- owned power gen­er­a­tors, in­sist­ing it would de­liver div­i­dends for elec­tric­ity users.

Australian Com­pe­ti­tion and Con­sumer Com­mis­sion chair­man Rod Sims yes­ter­day said the Govern­ment con­trolled two- thirds of Queens­land’s gen­er­a­tion ca­pac­ity and this was hurt­ing house­holds and busi­ness.

Premier An­nas tacia Palaszczuk re­jected Mr Si ms’ as­sess­ment, in­sist­ing her Govern­ment had used its own­er­ship sta­tus over the gen­er­a­tors to lever­age bet­ter out­comes for con­sumers.

The gen­er­a­tors have been ac­cused of “gam­ing” the na­tional en­ergy mar­ket by us­ing their sig­nif­i­cant mar­ket power to raise prices.

After pock­et­ing record div­i­dends, the Palaszczuk Govern­ment or­dered the gen­er­a­tors to cease late bid­ding be­hav­iour, which had an im­me­di­ate im­pact on whole­sale prices.

Mr Sims said the de­ci­sion demon­strated the mar­ket power of the state’s gen­er­a­tors.

“No other part of the sys­tem has that, so it is in­cred­i­bly con­cen­trated,” he said. “It cer­tainly means prices are higher than they should be.”

Mr Sims said the Govern­ment had over- in­vested in the dis­tri­bu­tion net­works, pock­et­ing guar­an­teed re­turns as prices sky­rock­eted.

“Net­work charges, be they trans­mis­sion or the poles and wires in your street, have been too ex­pen­sive and too much money spent on them which has meant that con­sumers have had to pay too much to get the power from the gen­er­a­tor to their homes,” he said.

But Ms Palaszczuk said vot­ers had re­jected as­set sales and her Govern­ment had en­sured the state’s power price rise was the low­est in Aus­tralia.

Rod Sims.

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