Koutsantonis seeks justification for electricity price hikes

The South Australian Government has written to the Essential Services Commissioner to ask for an independent assessment as to whether recent cost increases by energy retailers are justified.

Last week, AGL announced the average South Australian customer using around 5MW hours per year would be charged an additional $228 – and its competitors have followed suit. Origin Energy revealed its customers will see an increase of 6.5 per cent, equating to $117 per year, while Energy Australia announced a $22 increase on the average monthly bill, or about an extra $260 a year.

All three companies cited issues around coal and gas supply in South Australia, as well as the changing mix of energy generation, as reasons for the increases – some of which are as high as 13 per cent.

Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis made the request in a letter to the Essential Services Commission of South Australia (ESCOSA), asking acting chair Dr Lynne Williams to establish the factual basis for the electricity price increases, and to consider the impact the price hikes would have on customers.

“These price increases… add significantly to cost of living pressures on affected customers [and] also affects South Australian businesses looking to keep costs down and stay competitive,” Mr Koutsantonis said.

“In light of the community concern over the price increases it is important that customers are presented with independent advice on whether or not the reasons given for them are justified… ESCOSA is perfectly positioned to provide that advice and inform consumers’ decisions about whether or not they stay with their energy retailer.”

Mr Koutsantonis has not ruled out extending cost of living concessions or rebates, but he has not indicated he will do so in next month’s State Budget.