The Australian Greens will move to cap electricity prices in a push for the government to re-regulate the retail electricity sector.
In the National Electricity Market, where the Commonwealth has influence, the Commonwealth would give states where retail electricity prices are currently deregulated (VIC, NSW, SA & parts of QLD) until the end of 2017 to re-regulate prices.
If they fail to do so, the Commonwealth would step in and put the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) in charge of prices. States would also be permitted to establish public retailers, which would help drive down prices.
The Greens are open to a range of models for the Australian Energy Regulator to implementing price-capping, but the Greens preferred model would be:
- Each retailer would be required to offer a 'default regulated standard offer', above which they could not charge;
- The benchmark for this standard offer would be the average ACT price for power, as determined by the Australian Energy Regulator;
- States and retailers would be given until end 2017 to justify why they should be permitted to charge any higher than the ACT price;
- The States (or, failing their co-operation, the Australian Energy Regulator) would then determine standard offer prices for their jurisdictions, set at either the ACT level or higher if appropriate, but in any event no higher than current average prices. As a result, prices would either be frozen at current levels or would fall to closer to the ACT level;
- The price cap would rise only with average wages growth.
This would result in electricity bills effectively being frozen at or below 2017 levels in real terms.
The Greens will continue to push for an expanded renewable energy target to grow investment in wind and solar and greater regulation of the networks, which will also drive down prices.
Quotes attributable to Greens climate change and energy spokesperson Adam Bandt MP:
“Deregulating electricity prices has failed. It is time the government stepped in and capped electricity prices.”
“The role of government is to act in the best interests of the people and it’s time to admit that competition has failed to deliver electricity that is cheap and clean.”
“Simply jawboning the retailers won’t help. States & Territories where regulation of prices is still in place generally have lower prices. It is time Malcolm Turnbull put the rest of states on notice that they need to act and that if they won’t, he will.”
“Recent analysis of retail prices in Victoria showed that electricity retailers’ profit margins have increased by 100% since prices were deregulated”
“Renewables are making electricity cheaper, but the big power companies are doing everything they can do fleece customers in the meantime.”
“Privatisation has failed. It has pushed up prices and pollution and has caused a crisis in the electricity market.”
“The Greens want to take the power back from big corporations that have been driving up prices so they can drive up profits.”
“Electricity is an essential service and electricity prices should be brought back under public control.