New power pun­ish­ment

Green light for elec­tric­ity tar­iff rise

Herald Sun - - NEWS - AN­THONY GAL­LOWAY an­thony.gal­loway@news.com.au Twit­ter: @Gal­lo_Ways

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.

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