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ACCC Leads Push To Cut Power Prices, Punish The Greedy

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has recommended a new deal on electricity pricing in Australia which it reckons would see the average household save 20-25 percent on its electricity bill, or as much as $415 a year.

This is among 56 recommendations made in the ACCC’s final Retail Electricity Pricing Inquiry report, published this week.

“The national electricity market is largely broken and needs to be reset,” said ACCC chair Rod Sims, announcing the report.

“It is clear that most households are paying far too much for electricity,” Sims said yesterday.

“In addition, some of the most vulnerable in our community are forced to struggle through freezing winters and scorching summers, with many others also having difficulty paying their bills.”

Sims added that Australia’s 2.2 million small-medium businesses could save an average 24 percent on their electricity bills, if the ACCC’s recommendations are adopted.

The recommendations include abolishing the current retail “standing” offers and replacing them with new “default” offers, consistent across all retailers; making it easier for consumers to compare offers; setting a mandatory code for comparative Web sites, based on customer benefit, not commissions paid; and limiting companies with 20 percent or more market share from acquiring more generation capacity.

The Australian Energy Regulator – a Melbourne-based outfit which supposedly regulates the wholesale electricity and gas markets – would be given improved powers to investigate problems and impose hefty penalties for serious wrongdoing.

Sims added: “Despite poor decisions over at least the past decade, creating the current electricity affordability problem, it now falls to current Commonwealth and State governments to make the difficult decisions to fix it.”

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