Energy market reform essential to save energy and lower bills

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The Energy Efficiency Council (EEC) has called on government to fix Australia’s energy markets and drive sensible, cost effective policy.

Recent electricity price spikes have started a major national debate on how to reform Australia’s electricity system and, ahead of the COAG Energy Council meeting this Friday, the EEC has urged for electricity reform to be top of the agenda.

“The sad fact is poor regulation, excessive spending on poles and wires and a lack of focus on energy efficiency have short-changed mums and dads around the country,” EEC CEO Luke Menzel said.

“Electricity price spikes in South Australia have outraged many energy users, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Electricity network companies have spent billions on infrastructure that could have been avoided if we’d properly managed demand, and consumers are picking up the tab.”

The cheapest way to meet Australia’s energy needs is to balance investment in energy supply with smarter energy use, according to the EEC, which said the simplest example is keeping an off-grid house cool in the summer.

Last month, the EEC released a comprehensive plan to keep energy affordable, the Australian Energy Efficiency Policy Handbook.

Key recommendations include:

  • ensuring electricity tariffs are fair and encourage smart investment
  • overhauling the way electricity networks are regulated
  • improving standards for appliances, buildings and vehicles to protect consumers
  • saving energy in homes, businesses and public buildings

“With a wave of new investment in renewable energy and storage on the horizon, it’s essential that we fix the flaws in our energy system,” Mr Menzel said.

“If we just focus on addressing issues with our energy supply, we’ll only be tackling half the problem and bills will continue to rise.

“We applaud Minister Frydenberg for recognising the importance of energy efficiency. In 2015 he set a target to improve Australia’s energy productivity (a measure of energy efficiency) by 40 per cent by 2030 and signed a new National Energy Productivity Plan. However, we won’t reach our target and the Plan will gather dust unless we invest in real action.

“It’s essential Australia’s energy ministers work together to fix both the supply side and the demand side of the market.”

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