Today’s Australian Energy Regulator (AER) decision should signal the end of massive power hikes in Queensland and it’s now up to Labor to outline its plan to reduce costs further, Shadow Energy Minister Andrew Powell says.
Mr Powell said the national regulator will today release its preliminary determination for Queensland network businesses Ergon and Energex.
“The AER outlines the amount of revenue these businesses are allowed to earn over a five-year regulatory period,” Mr Powell said.
“This is hugely important for Queensland families, because these network costs make up more than half of every household’s power bill.”
Mr Powell said escalating network costs had been the main driver behind the price increases seen in recent years.
“There are other factors, such as the ill-conceived Solar Bonus Scheme which will add more than $3 billion to household electricity bills, but the over-investment in the network seen under the Beattie-Bligh Governments has been the main driver,” he said.
“When the LNP was in Government we moved to strip these costs back and make these businesses run as efficiently as possible, recognising the benefits for consumers.
“We removed $7 billion in expenditure out of the electricity businesses and this has helped put downward pressure on network costs over the 2015-2020 regulatory period.”
Mr Powell said the Palaszczuk Government could argue the case for even lower prices for Queensland families, before the final AER determination was handed down.
“Unfortunately, I don’t hold much hope of that happening,” he said.
“The Labor Government is completely relying on the profitability of these businesses to live up to its promise to pay down debt.
“Labor’s debt reduction plan is to gouge these businesses for profits, and this could hurt Queensland families.
“If you look back, former Labor Treasurer Andrew Fraser actually wrote a letter arguing the case for higher returns for these businesses in 2009.
“I’m also concerned because every move the Labor Government has made since its election has the potential to drive up costs for Queenslanders.
“Their plan to merge the electricity generators has been criticised by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission as having the potential to ‘push up electricity prices’.
“They also put a stop to the deregulation of electricity pricing in south-east Queensland at the last minute, despite the huge benefits this has provided families in other states.
“So far, Labor seems more interested in inhibiting competition rather than promoting it.
“Today’s AER preliminary determination provides them with a chance to stand up for Queenslanders, who are crying out for cost of living relief.”