NSW consumer groups call on Energy Regulator to ensure prices head down

A coalition of NSW consumer groups is calling on the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) to stand firm amid mounting pressure from the NSW electricity networks to increase prices for consumers.

At a forum on December 8, the AER explained its draft decision to reduce the proposed operating and expenditure costs of these businesses by more than a third for 2014-19, potentially driving a reduction in consumer bills by an average of $189 per year. However, the NSW network businesses are likely to contest these potential cuts and lobby for higher prices for NSW consumers.


‘It’s high time that electricity prices came down,’ said Oliver Derum, Senior Policy Officer with the Public Interest Advocacy Centre’s (PIAC) Energy + Water Consumer Advocacy Program (EWCAP). ‘We welcome the AER’s draft decision to reject the NSW networks’ proposal to increase prices at close to CPI annually,’ he said.

‘Together PIAC, the Council of Social Service of NSW (NCOSS), the Ethnic Communities’ Council of NSW and the Total Environment Centre are calling on the AER to remain firm in the face of lobbying by the NSW network businesses.

‘We actually think the AER should have gone further. Consumer groups are asking the AER to examine reducing the rate of return from the draft level of 7.15%.

‘We note the UK regulator recently determined a rate of return of 4.8% so there is scope for this figure to decrease even more, especially the return on debt component,’ said Mr Derum.

‘We are also asking the AER to reconsider its approach to Demand Management, given the potential for lower peak demand to reduce costs to consumers,’ said Mark Byrne, Energy Advocate at the Total Environment Centre.

‘It’s not good enough to wait for the rules to change, the AER should at the very least agree to the demand management proposals put forward, in particular by Ausgrid,’ he said.

NCOSS CEO Tracy Howe said the number of households disconnected due to non-payment of energy bills increased by 32% in the 2013/14 financial year. ‘We should be doing everything we can to put downward pressure on prices and this determination does just that’, she said.

Photo Credit: loop_oh (cc)

1 Comment on "NSW consumer groups call on Energy Regulator to ensure prices head down"

  1. I question the fairness of natural gas pricing in NSW. I live in Queanbeyan approximately six minutes drive from Canberra Airport. According to my service provider the cost of natural gas in the ACT which is piped from NSW is just under 17 cents per unit (whatever this unit is not quite sure) while in NSW it is over 25 cents for the same unit. The gas to my home comes from the ACT but I have to pay NSW prices. This is surely not fair. I consider it discrimination against NSW people.

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