Turnbull summons power companies to discuss lowering electricity bills

Businesses want to cut business power bills with renewables

Malcolm Turnbull wants electricity companies to report to Canberra next week with ideas for reducing consumer electricity bills.

The Prime Minister has summoned Energy Australia, Origin Energy, AGL Snowy Hydro, Momentum Energy, Alinta Energy, Simply Energy plus the Australian Energy Council for input on how to cut power prices.

In addition to the energy chiefs, Treasurer Scott Morrison and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg will attend the meeting.

Mr Turnbull issued a letter inviting the major stakeholders to the Canberra meeting.

In his invitation, Mr Turnbull said he is concerned by reports that consumers are being pushed from discounted market rates. Many end up on higher-priced standard contracts or non-discounted plans, often without realising it, he said.

Power companies not informing clients of potential savings

Mr Turnbull quotes a survey by Catholic charity St Vincent de Paul, which found recently that a household in Victoria with typical consumption could save up to $830 per year if it switched to the best market offer.

According to media reports, the letter references an Australian Energy Markets Commission Retail Competition report which found 47 per cent of residential and 54 per cent of small businesses have been on the same plan for five years.

High electricity bills in Australia
Reducing electricity bills is the focus of the PM’s meeting with energy retailers in Canberra next week. Image: Pixabay

“This suggests that these households and businesses are paying significantly more than they need to,” the letter says.

Electricity bills increase up to 135% over decade

A Grattan Institute report released in June shows Australians are paying too much due to electricity price hikes.

Over the five years to 2013 average household electricity bills rose 70 per cent, from $970 to $1,660 annually, according to the report.

Residential power prices have jumped up to 135 per cent in some Australian states since 2007 and electricity costs for businesses have increased 50 per cent in just seven years.

In addition, analysis carried out by the ANU’s Centre for Social Research and Methods indicates an average rise of 106 per cent across Australia over the past 10 years.

Despite the call for lower electricity bills, the Turnbull Government still refuses to make a call on a future clean energy policy.

Despite its sanctioning 49 Finkel Review recommendations in June, the 50th – a Clean Energy Target – has proved a stumbling block.


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