AGL accused of ‘gouging’ after Hazelwood closure

Hazelwood power plant

Energy giant AGL – along with other retailers – has been accused of price ‘gouging’ after the closure of the coal-fired Hazelwood power plant in Victoria.

Victoria University research, obtained by ABC’s The 7.30 Report, reveals price rises padded the pockets of Australia’s energy giants with an extra $3 billion in revenue.

AGL increased the price of coal-fired power on offer at its Bayswater and Liddell plants in NSW around the announcement of Hazelwood’s closure, with the study finding a significant part of the output from Liddell was repriced from $40 to $60 per megawatt hour, to greater than $5000 per megawatt hour. At the same time, power offered by Bayswater nearly doubled in price, according to the ABC.

EnergyAustralia and Origin are embroiled in the accusations as well, accusations the companies have denied.

Together, AGL, EnergyAustralia and Orgin control about 45 per cent of Australia’s energy capacity.

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According to the ABC, AGL chief executive Brett Redman has acknowledged the company benefited from higher prices after the closure of Hazelwood, but described it as the “supply, demand dynamic”.

“Typical of any market — whether it’s coal, gas, oil, gold, you name it — when a large amount of supply is withdrawn from the market, the market reacts by pushing the price up,” Mr Redman said.

AGL released its half-yearly results in February, reporting a $537 million profit.

Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor said Australian’s should be outraged over the results, which were up 10 per cent from 2018 results and 138 per cent higher than 2011 figures.

“The big energy companies continue to take record profits, while Australian families and businesses continue to struggle under the burden of high energy prices,” Mr Taylor said.

“These companies have had it too good for too long, and are desperate to protect their patch from fairer rules introduced by the Morrison Government.”

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