Electricity decision to face judicial review

A recent controversial decision of the Australian Competition Tribunal, which was likely to result in higher electricity prices for NSW consumers, will now be subject to judicial review by the Federal Court.

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) is seeking review of several aspects of the Tribunal’s February decision, which directed the AER to re-make its earlier price determinations for the NSW electricity network businesses. If the AER’s original decision had not been overturned, consumers would have seen bill reductions of more than $100 per year.  

‘PIAC has represented the interests of NSW consumers in the price-setting process for several months now. While we welcome the AER’s appeal, we hope it can be resolved quickly, so that consumers do not face a further prolonged period of uncertainty about electricity prices,’ said PIAC CEO, Edward Santow.

‘Electricity prices have risen 94% over the past five years, hitting low-income households the hardest.

‘Network prices make up around 50% of the average household electricity bill, so the stakes are high. 

‘Despite reforms to energy law in 2013 that were supposed to simplify the price-setting process and give consumers more of a say, we now face months, if not years, before we have a final decision, and no guarantee that households will see any relief.

‘In a first for a consumer organisation, we appealed the AER’s original decision in the Tribunal, arguing for price reductions above the AER’s, while the electricity businesses argued for higher revenue allowances.

‘The Tribunal’s approach meant that it did not decide on some of PIAC’s arguments, and instead it accepted the network businesses’ position that they should be allowed to collect even more money from consumers. 

‘PIAC will carefully monitor proceedings and consider all options to continue to fight for fair energy prices for NSW consumers,’ said Edward Santow.

Photo: Flickr/My Japan

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