New energy plan backs baseload generation

IPCC coal warning

As CEOs become “obsessed with triple bottom lines”, the customer has been forgotten, according to the new Federal Minister for Energy.

In an opinion piece published in the Australian Financial Review, Minister for Energy Angus Taylor said boards and chief executives have become increasingly obsessed with environmental targets, diversity training and corporate social responsibility reports.

He said businesses are not sustainable unless they deliver customers a fairly priced quality product or service.

“If you forget customers, competitors and governments are sure to remind you,” he said.

“Nowhere is this more important than utilities providing essential services – such as electricity – to all Australian households, businesses and other organisations, including hospitals and schools.

“When Prime Minister Scott Morrison appointed me minister for energy, he gave me one clear KPI – to lower power prices while keeping the lights on.”

The PM has dubbed Mr Taylor the “Minister for Lowering Power Prices”, and he is determined to live up to the title.

“This government’s solutions will not be driven by ideology or grand gestures, but pragmatism. Our plan is clear,” he wrote.

“First, we will not hesitate to intervene to stop the price-gouging.

“The ACCC voiced its concerns about the lack of competition in wholesale and retail markets, and the high-price customers are paying as a result.

“We will move to prevent unreasonable late payment penalties, strengthen the powers of regulators to tackle dodgy practices and continue to crackdown on rampant over-investment in distribution and transmission.

“With wholesale prices now well off their peaks and energy company profits at record levels, we need to see wholesale price reductions passed through to customers.”

The second part of the plan is the establishment of a price safety net to ensure retailers are held to account if customers aren’t getting the best deal.

“Establishing a fair market default price, and ensuring offers and plans provide simple comparisons against this, mean people will get fair deal even when they don’t have time to shop around,” Mr Taylor said.

“Confusing customers for profit has to stop.”

The Federal Government will also back investment in baseload generation to retain supply and encourage competition.

“We will force divestments if necessary. Opening up our abundant natural resources – gas, coal, water and the sun – will ensure Australians receive the cheapest and most reliable electricity,” he said.

“The reliability of our electricity grid is under pressure.

“The renewable energy targets in Victoria, Queensland and the ACT are dramatically worsening this situation, with unprecedented additions of intermittent wind and solar putting pressure on reliable baseload generators to exit.”