ACCC Inquiry welcome, but retail electricity is not the problem

The energy industry has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement today of an ACCC Inquiry into retail competition in the electricity market.

The Australian Energy Council’s Chief Executive, Matthew Warren, said “we welcome the Inquiry which we are confident will bust the myth that competitive retail electricity markets are the problem. 

“We don’t need an Inquiry to tell the Federal Government why electricity prices are increasing.  They are increasing because we are running out of electricity.  We are running out of electricity because for the past decade we haven’t had clear, consistent national energy and climate policy.

“Focusing on the operation of the retail electricity market won’t improve energy security nor will it bring down the rising cost of electricity,” Mr Warren said.

“Competitive retail electricity markets are working effectively and efficiently, delivering choice and savings opportunities to customers.  There are already a number of independent agents who regularly review electricity pricing and the efficiency of the retail market.  These include the Australian Energy Market Commission, consumer groups including St. Vincent de Paul and financial analysts. 

“Retail margins are variable.  Competition is cut throat.  The absence of other major retail businesses in the electricity market shows how tough this market is to operate in successfully.

“Although competition is desirable, competition cannot guarantee the lowest possible price for every customer at any point in time, nor can it guarantee that prices will not rise overall.  Governments should similarly be aware that it is not possible to regulate for such an outcome.  The best advice for consumers is that they should engage with the market and shop around for the best deal for their circumstances.

“We will participate constructively in this Inquiry, but this process should not impede delivery of effective and durable bipartisan national energy policy”, Mr Warren said.

About the Australian Energy Council

The Council represents 21 major electricity and downstream natural gas businesses operating in competitive wholesale and retail energy markets. These businesses collectively generate the overwhelming majority of electricity in Australia and sell gas and electricity to over 10 million homes and businesses.

Media contact             Sarah McNamara                0409 306 758