Price check: ACCC to lead Federal Government review into electricity costs

The ongoing saga over the Australian energy sector has been sparked into life again this morning with the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s announcement of a national review into electricity prices.

The Federal Government has tasked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) with reviewing the practices of major electricity retailers as well as the contracts on offer to customers.

"A better deal in electricity is vital to keeping the lights on, delivering cheaper prices to families and businesses and sustaining jobs, particularly the thousands of jobs in our energy intensive industries,” said Prime Minister Turnbull.

"Competition in retail electricity markets should mean lower prices for residential and business consumers. However, retail electricity markets don't appear to be operating as effectively as they could.”

Mr Turnbull’s statement is the latest attempt from the government to address the country’s ongoing energy crisis, following his challenge earlier this month to East Coast gas suppliers and the announcement of a new $2 billion Snowy Hydro scheme.

Under the newly proposed review, the ACCC will be given special powers to obtain information from the electricity sector in order to ascertain the potential need for a future intervention by the watchdog.

The ACCC will also be tasked with exploring the nature of electricity contracts and any roadblocks in place which limit consumer choice, as well as the profitability, competitiveness and pricing of electricity retailers.

A final report on the review is expected to be issued by June 2018, but the first preliminary findings by the watchdog may be available in the next six months.

Four tips to bring down your electricity bill

  • Unplug those devices. Up to 10% of your electricity bill could be coming from phones, laptops and other gadgets on standby.
  • Compare and switch. You might be able to save a bundle by moving to a different provider, so don’t hesitate when it comes to comparing plans.
  • Control the temperature. Whether it’s your aircon or heater, a single degree warmer for heating or cooling could add 10% to your running costs.
  • Explore online providers. With an online provider you could reduce your bill by taking advantage of sign up and direct debit discounts.

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