New power punishment
Green light for electricity tariff rise
POWER bills will spike by up to $30 from January 1 after the energy regulator approved tariff hikes for electricity distributors.
Power companies are scrambling to find ways to offer cheaper power contracts as the new charges make it more difficult to meet Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor’s demand to lower prices from the start of next year.
AusNet Services customers in northeast Melbourne and eastern Victoria will see their bills rise by $30, Citipower and Powercor customers in central, western and inner Melbourne and western Victoria will be hit by increases of $14 to $16, and United Energy customers in southern Melbourne and Mornington Peninsula by $11.
AER chairwoman Paula Conboy said the increased tariffs was the “minimum required” for energy distributors to continue providing a re- liable service and to address bushfire risks.
Mr Taylor distanced himself from the AER’s decision yesterday, saying the government’s priority was to “lower power prices while keeping the lights on”.
“The AER makes its regulatory decisions based on the need to ensure customers pay no more than necessary for safe and reliable electricity,” Mr Taylor said.
“We’re seeing record profits in the electricity sector. It’s time now for energy companies to provide lower, fairer prices for Australian families and small businesses.”
Mr Taylor is demanding energy companies reduce prices by January 1 and for “loyalty taxes” — slugged on customers after they are lured by cheaper prices — to be abolished.
As of yesterday, the Austra- lian Energy Regulator is hearing details of how it can force power companies to offer default price contracts if they do not lower prices from January 1.
“The nature of the implementation of a default market offer on July 1 will be dependent on the outcome of actions taken by energy retailers by January 1,” Mr Taylor said.
“In the meantime it is crucial the AER continue its work.”
Opposition energy spokesman Mark Butler said the AER’s move to increase tariffs showed the Morrison Government would not meet its promise to lower electricity prices.
“This is just evidence Angus Taylor will fail the Prime Minister’s KPI of being the ‘minister for getting power prices down’,” Mr Butler said.