Consumer advocates have responded to the Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Energy Market (Finkel Review), which was handed down last week.

Energy Consumers Australia CEO Rosemary Sinclair said the Finkel Panel had developed a framework to address the affordability, system security and emissions reduction challenges we are facing in an orderly, measured and coordinated way.

“The Finkel Report shows with the right settings, including a Clean Energy Target, we can keep the power on, ensure energy is affordable for households and small businesses and reduce emissions.

“What is needed now is a proactive, clear and collaborative response from the energy sector with a laser-like focus on the long-term interests of consumers.”

Ms Sinclair welcomed measures to reward households and small businesses for being flexible in the way they interact with the market, as well as information initiatives to make it easier for consumers to make decisions.

Consumer Action CEO Gerard Brody also welcomed a number of the Finkel recommendations.

These include the recommendation that consumer protections are updated to reflect the transforming energy market (rec 6.5). “Unless consumer protections are updated to apply to new business models, the market will quickly evolve and new and important energy services like solar and battery bundles will not meet peoples’ needs”.

Consumer Action also welcome the recommendation on reporting to COAG Energy Council on affordability issues (rec 6.4). “No-one should be worse off as a result of the urgent need to decarbonise the energy system – the transition to clean energy can be done affordably, and climate policy certainty will help pave the way,” said Mr Brody.

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), however, said the Review was a “mixed bag” for consumers.

“While the recommendations of today’s final report will certainly improve the long-term reliability and security of the system, and go some way to reducing emissions, they shirk some of the more cost effective ways of doing so, meaning consumers will pay more than they should in the long run,” said Mr Craig Memery, Team Leader at PIAC’s Energy + Water Program.

“On the upside, we welcome Dr Finkel’s acknowledgement of the critical role that demand response plays in a modern energy system, as an alternative to building more generators to meet our  energy needs.”

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