Welcome relief, but electricity network prices still too high

Draft electricity network price decreases announced today by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) are welcome, but more action is needed to make energy affordable, according to the Public Interest Advocacy Centre’s (PIAC) Energy + Water Consumer Advocacy Program (EWCAP).

An average NSW household electricity bill will be at least $183 lower in 2015-16 under draft network prices announced today by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER). 

This announcement follows proposals by the electricity networks to increase prices close to CPI annually.  

‘Network costs make up around 50% of a household’s total bill in NSW, so this announcement should result in lower bills for most households. In 2015-16, average annual bills for residential customers in Endeavour Energy’s area are expected to fall by $159; in Ausgrid’s region by $189; and for Essential Energy by $346,’ said Oliver Derum, PIAC Senior Policy Officer. 

‘Overall, this is very welcome news for most consumers after years of double-digit price rises. 

‘It shows some of the reforms aimed at getting network prices under control have made a real difference and, as a result, the regulator has been able to reject the price increases proposed by the networks. 

‘We hope the NSW network businesses will accept the AER’s decision and look for further ways to reduce costs to NSW households,’ said Mr Derum. 

‘This is a positive first step. But even with these price decreases, electricity will still be very expensive and unaffordable for too many,’ Mr Derum said.

‘Prices would drop further if previous over-investment by the networks is written down by the NSW Government before the proposed lease of the networks. That could cut bills further by hundreds of dollars a year.

‘We would urge the NSW Government to consider this option as part of the sale process,’ said Oliver Derum. 

MEDIA CONTACT: PIAC Media and Communications Officer, Gemma Pearce: 0478 739 280.

Photo: Flickr/ Jossyk

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