The Australian Competition Tribunal has granted the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) leave to proceed with its case on electricity prices in NSW. This means the Tribunal will re-consider the revenue decisions of three NSW electricity networks companies (Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy and Essential Energy).

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PIAC’s legal challenge to reduce electricity bills for consumers will now go to a full hearing, expected to start on 21 September.

‘The Tribunal’s decision is encouraging for consumers,’ said Edward Santow, CEO of PIAC.

‘The Tribunal accepts that there are important questions to be determined about how electricity prices will be set in NSW over the next five years.’

PIAC believes that the Australian Energy Regulator’s 30 April decisions allow the NSW electricity networks to operate inefficiently over the next four years, keeping electricity prices unnecessarily high for consumers.

PIAC will argue that the AER has failed properly to implement the rules on the costs that can be charged to consumers to run our electricity network, and on the electricity networks’ borrowing costs.

If PIAC’s challenge is successful, the average household electricity bill could be reduced by more than $150 next year below the regulator’s determination.

At the same time, the three network businesses are seeking an extra $5.6 billion from consumers, potentially raising the average NSW bill by around $420 next year.

‘The COAG Energy Council initiated substantial reforms to try and make electricity network pricing fairer. For the first time, consumers are part of the limited merits review process.

‘PIAC has launched this appeal seeking better outcomes for electricity consumers – to achieve the aim that the reforms were intended to deliver,’ Mr Santow said.

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