Electricity giants to meet energy minister

Rebecca Gredley
(Australian Associated Press)

 

Electricity giants say lower power bills are already on the way for consumers, as the federal energy minister prepares to lay out the government’s plan to drive prices down.

Angus Taylor will meet with electricity retailers in Sydney on Wednesday morning to outline the government’s proposals, including a default market price and reference bill for each network region.

Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy and TransGrid released a joint statement showing declining network costs will be reflected in lower household bills.

The giants say the electricity grid needs stable investment for prices to fall further.

Ausgrid CEO Richard Gross says $100 million has been slashed from operational costs since 2016, also leading to lower bills for customers.

“Our component of bill has reduced by $237 per customer in real terms since 2014 – a reduction of 28 per cent,” he said.

“The network sector is bringing prices down, but we can’t do it alone, the rest of the industry needs to do the same.”

However, Energy Minister Angus Taylor says he’s made his expectations clear.

“We want a fairer deal for Australian families and small businesses,” he said on Tuesday.

“I will be emphasising that at the roundtable.”

The government has also asked the Australian Energy Regulator to develop a reference bill for each network region, for electricity retailers to calculate and advertise their discounts using a common reference point.

Mr Taylor will also hold two forums this week to provide detail on the government’s plan to underwrite new power plants.

He will canvass the contentious underwriting proposal during a forum in Sydney on Wednesday afternoon and in Melbourne on Friday.

“The Australian government’s underwriting new-generation investments program is focused on attracting new investment in firm or firmed generation capacity to increase competition and reduce electricity prices,” Mr Taylor wrote to retailers ahead of the forum.

“The new program also aims to improve reliability and security by increasing the level of firm capacity in the system.”

The underwriting proposal, which could see Canberra bankroll a new coal-fired plant, signals the willingness of the coalition government to shake up the market share of the big retailers.

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