Government pledges $51 million to lower power prices

back-billing, energy bills, power prices, synergy, ACCC

The Liberal National Government is providing $51 million to the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) and Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to help lower power prices and ensure reliable energy for Australian families and small businesses.

The AER will receive an additional $23 million over five years, with further funding on an ongoing basis, to develop a reference bill and a ‘default market offer’ for electricity, acting as a price safety net to ensure customers get a fair deal.

The ACCC will receive an additional $28 million over seven years to monitor electricity prices and address any misconduct carried out by energy companies.

The Australian Energy Market Commission found that customers on standing offers could be paying up to $832 per year more than the cheapest market offer in some regions – and small businesses could be paying up to $3457 per year more.

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The reference bill will require electricity retailers to calculate and advertise their discounts using a common reference point. Together with the default market offer, it will reduce confusion for customers and stop energy companies taking advantage of those who don’t have time to shop around for a better deal.

The AER has been tasked with developing these measures by April 30, 2019, to take effect by July 1, 2019. The additional funding will allow the AER to regularly update them.

The ACCC will continue to monitor electricity prices and address any misconduct carried out by energy companies. As part of this, the ACCC will undertake an ongoing electricity price monitoring inquiry between 2018 and 2025.

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The ACCC will gather information on the behaviour of electricity market participants and report on electricity prices, profits and margins from a wide range of energy companies. The first ACCC report is due to government by March 31, 2019, with reporting to continue at least every six months until 2025.

The additional funding is part of the Government’s plan for a stronger economy and a more affordable and reliable energy system. It builds on record price cuts announced last month of up to 15 per cent for standing offer customers, benefitting half a million Australian families and small businesses from January 1, 2019.