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Monday, 13 August 2012

PM Gillard on surging power prices

As Prime Minister Julia Gillard addressed the Energy Policy Institute of Australia (EPIA, she likened the surging costs of household power bills to petrol prices..

Ms Gillard accepted that prices of energy had increased at unprecedented levels, and acknowledged that the runaway power bills often seemed ‘beyond our control.’

But Ms Gillard assured her audience that the Government was in a better place to counter growing energy costs as it prepares for the release of its new Energy White Paper, as well as introducing price determinations next year.

Ms Gillard also outlined planned COAG reform that would see action before the end of the year.

The Prime Minister failed to resist taking a swipe at the NSW and Queensland Governments, who’s publically owned utility companies are continuing to reap growing profits.

“Meanwhile, some states, like New South Wales and Queensland, are doing very well out of this financially and their revenue from some electricity assets is growing much faster than in the private sector,” Ms Gillard said.

“So it is also very clear that the States can, and should, do more to cut future price rises.”

Ms Gillard also acknowledged that reforming the sector would take a herculean effort, and that the mixed public/private nature of the sector would make reform complex and diffuclt to deliver.

"And of course, there’s the pragmatic, patchwork design of National Electricity Market itself – a complex mix of co-ordination and competition, public and private ownership, national and state regulation,” Ms Gillard said.

“But, recognising that complexity, appreciating the conflicting objectives and incentives, and taking into account the long-term factors at play, I want to say very clearly: the last four years’ price rises cannot continue.”

 The Clean Energy Council (CEC) has called for extensive reform to the country’s consumer energy market in the wake of the Prime Minister speech on energy reform.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive David Green said consumers currently had very little control over their energy bills, and that needed to change.

“Electricity prices are a difficult issue which require governments to put aside politics and act in the public interest. The Prime Minister’s speech today has helped to move the discussion in the right direction, calling for urgent action by state governments to enact reforms to stop the run of power price rises,” Mr Green said.

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