Electricity price win for South Australian consumers

Photo: Flickr/My Japan

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre and South Australian Council of Social Service have welcomed today’s decision by the Australian Competition Tribunal in relation to South Australian electricity network prices.

Earlier today the Australian Competition Tribunal upheld the October 2015 determination of the Australian Electricity Regulator (AER) in relation to electricity network revenue, rejecting arguments by the SA Power Networks that, if accepted, would have resulted in higher prices for consumers.

PIAC represented SACOSS in its legal challenge to the AER’s decision, arguing for lower prices.

‘South Australian households should be very pleased with this decision. It will save households approximately $140 per year on their electricity bills,’ said PIAC CEO Jonathon Hunyor.

‘The Tribunal has rejected the Networks’ attempt to recover $250 million more from South Australian consumers.

‘Significantly, this is the first time consumers have been heard in the price-determination process in SA. Prior to reforms to the National Electricity Law in 2013, only the electricity networks were able to contest the AER’s determinations.

‘We were very pleased to see the Tribunal give detailed consideration to the submissions made by consumer interest groups during the Tribunal’s consultation process. It is vital that consumers are heard when it comes to utility pricing,’ said Jonathon Hunyor.

SACOSS CEO Ross Womersley said: ‘Consumer groups from around the state have been active for three years in helping to achieve this result. A collection of business and community groups has maintained an active presence during the regulatory decision making process and the Tribunal’s review. This win is significantly thanks to this state-wide effort and we congratulate our colleagues in joining with us to achieve this win.’

‘We recognise that this win comes at a time when prices for South Australian consumers are still going up. However, this win underscores the importance of a strong regulator and active consumer voices across the value chain. We will continue to use our resources to seek further price relief for South Australians,’ Mr Womersley said.

Since May 2015, PIAC has also been locked in a legal battle in relation to the NSW electricity network pricing determinations by the AER. PIAC is arguing for lower prices for NSW consumers.

The result of the Australian Competition Tribunal’s February 2016 decision in relation to review of the AER’s NSW determinations was less favourable for consumers. 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 is currently representing NSW consumers in the Full Federal Court’s review of this decision.

PIAC & SACOSS both acknowledge the importance of funding from Energy Consumers Australia in helping consumers to participate in the review process.

MEDIA CONTACTS: PIAC Media and Communications Manager, Gemma Pearce: 0478 739 280.

SACOSS CEO Ross Womersley: 0418 805 426.

Photo: Flickr/ My Japan

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