At today’s NSW Legislative Council’s Inquiry into Electricity, the NSW Farmer’s Association will highlight the need for the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART), to step up and call out uncompetitive practices within retail electricity markets to ensure a fair go for electricity consumers.
“Electricity prices have hit the hip pockets of all consumers across NSW. Regional users have particularly felt the pain of price rises, paying up to 20-25% more for the same electricity use as urban users.” said Mr Derek Schoen, President of the Association.
Business and commercial users have seen price rises above and beyond those seen by households.
“We had a dairy farmer near Dubbo who recently renegotiated her electricity contract. Her contract price jumped from $50,000 p.a. to just over $90,000 p.a. The difference could have paid for an additional employee on the farm.”
The lack of competition in retail markets is contributing to spiralling electricity prices.
“The ACCC recently came out and stated that there was insufficient competition in retail electricity markets, and the independent review in Victoria found that retail markets were failing consumers. IPART stands alone in finding that consumers are getting a fair deal from the electricity retailers,” Mr Schoen said.
Despite these findings, NSW’s IPART continues to insist that retail electricity markets are competitive. This is to the detriment of all NSW electricity users.
In its 2017 Retail Energy Market Monitoring report, IPART finds that “competition for residential and small business customers in the NSW electricity retail market continued to improve in 2016-17”. This is in addition to IPART’s 2016 findings that “competition for residential and small business customers in the NSW retail electricity market is delivering choice, service innovations and prices consistent with a competitive market”.
At the hearing, the Association will call for a thorough review of competition within NSW retail electricity markets, and will recommend that the NSW Government consider:
· A comparison rate and simplified standardised consumer contracts for all retail market offers, allowing for consumers to compare and find the best offer for them; and
· Mandating that all retail electricity bills provide a break-down of cost components (transmission, generation, retail etc.) to create greater price transparency for consumers.
“In 2017 the Victorian Government held reviews on retail electricity markets and secured price decreases from the retailers for many Victorian electricity consumers. We would like to see this played out in NSW for NSW consumers.”