Electricity companies will no longer have the power to contest energy prices in court from July 1, following the Federal Government’s decision to abolish the limited merits review.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg and Minister for Resources Matt Canavan made the announcement in a joint statement yesterday.
The statement said the decision was made to take “immediate action to address escalating electricity prices”.
“We will stop big electricity companies from running to the courts to try to overturn the Australian Energy Regulator’s decisions,” the statement said.
“Companies have made 52 appeals and the courts have ruled against consumers 31 times. This will end.”
To support the action, the government is providing an additional $67.4 million in funding to the Australian Energy Regulator to stop companies overturning rulings.
The announcement comes after EnergyAustralia announced a 20 per cent increase for customers, blaming the closure of coal-fired power stations for the hike.
The Federal Government also agreed to tough new gas regulations to give Australian customers priority access to gas supply before its exported, from July 1.
“This decisive action puts the needs of Australian families and businesses first,” the statement said.
“Our priority is to ensure all Australians have access to reliable and affordable energy supplies.
“The finalisation of our tough gas regulations will increase supply to the domestic market, putting downward pressure on gas prices which have risen because of supply shortfalls.
“We simply cannot allow Australians to pay more for Australian gas than competitors overseas do.
“Restrictions will be placed on gas exporters when there are shortages in the domestic market.”
A third action announced in the joint statement included the government asking the Australian Energy Market Operator to identify the existing and potential loss of continuous, dispatchable (baseload) generation; talk to suppliers and customers about what they need to secure future investment; and examine how much continuous power is needed in the short term to
stabilise power prices.
“Baseload power anchors our electricity system. Continuous generation underpins our household and economic security,” the statement said.
“With a significant amount of baseload generation being phased out over the next 15 years, we need to ensure we are prepared and have enough power to meet future needs.”