ACCC Sparks Electricity Debate in Brisbane

Thursday 27 July, 2017

“Well, I guess we had better make a start….” Rod Sims, Chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)said, with his prophetic opening remarks at the first of many public forums in Brisbane Tuesday night in relation to the ACCC Retail Electricity Pricing Inquiry.

The event was attended by over 50 industry representatives, businesses, energy advocates and members of the public, all with one simple burning question, “why are prices so high?” Rod SImms ACCC1

Sims made it very clear, the ACCC had powers of information gathering unlike any other inquiry before it, having the legal power to compel corporations to hand over documents. The ACCC is aiming to discover what has driven up prices and what can be done, Sims indicated, “There are multiple drivers”.

“Electricity prices have been ignored for too long, so it is great to see it receiving the focus it deserves.” Sims said in his opening address.

When questioned about the scope of the inquiry, Sims reaffirmed that although the ACCC is looking at retail electricity prices, the retail price paid by a consumer contains network and generation costs, and therefore is firmly in the line of sight of the ACCC as they sift through the complex electricity market in Queensland.

Sims believes mistakes by earlier COAG’s in relation to policy decisions (or lack therefore) and frameworks have contributed to the state of the current market and was critical of Queensland’s GOCs generation dominance, stating that the market was not designed for such a high concentration, stifling competition.

CCIQ was not shocked to hear Sims describe the Queensland Solar Bonus Scheme as highly generous, ‘smearing’ the burden of costs across all users. CCIQ has repeatedly advocated for its removal following the Queensland Productivity Commission recommendations.

This isn’t a fairytale, where the ACCC will be able to step in at the third act and make all the problems go away. To quote Mr Sims, ‘there is no magic wand’.

As businesses fall further down the dark rabbit hole of excessive electricity prices, questions still remain and businesses will continue to struggle until government, generators, distributors and regulators come up with some solutions that make a real difference and don't simply tinker at the edges.

If your prices have increased and impacted your business, get in touch and email

To see CCIQ’s advocacy on this space please click here.

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