Craig Warhurst

Call for electricity pricing overhaul

A CONSUMER group claims Queensland households could be paying $600 less on electricity bills a year under an overhauled pricing framework.

The Alliance of Electricity Consumers has called on the Australian Energy Regulator to investigate irregularities in Energex and Ergon Energy's financial forecasts.

The electricity providers have submitted their regulatory proposals for 2015-2020.

The regulator will hand down its final decision on the revenue allowance for Energex and Ergon Energy in October.

The alliance, whose main supporters are Cotton Australia and Townsville Enterprise, state the primary reason for retail electricity price increases over the past decade is poles and wires.

The group's spokesman Jonathan Pavetto said their forensic analysis shown in the report it submitted to the regulator on Friday revealed the extent of the overpricing.

"Households are paying close to $600 a year more than they should be on the "poles and wires" component on their electricity bills, while small businesses are being slugged more than an additional $2000 each and every year," he said.

"By only charging customers for Energex and Ergon's real finance costs, improving the efficiency of operational expenditure and removing the cost of the solar bonus scheme from network prices, the government could make a massive difference to future electricity prices."

The regulator said if its lower distribution charges from its April preliminary decision were passed on to customers, residential customers could expect a $34 drop in average annual electricity bills in 2015/16.

Energex and Ergon's revised submissions will likely be available publicly soon.

An Ergon spokesman said its report would address affordability issues and putting downward pressure on rising electricity prices.

An Energex spokesman said while power price was clearly an issue for many customers, research revealed network reliability remained a key issue for south east Queenslanders.

"We collected information from more than 6700 residential and business customers, representative groups, local councils and electricity retailers ... and this is the cornerstone of our original and revised proposals," he said.

"While it was clear that price reductions are a key desire for energy consumers, they said this should not come at the expense of Energex delivering a reduction in services and network performance, especially customer service and safety.

"Delivering pricing stability has been the overarching goal for Energex over the past four years through business efficiency programs and we would urge the regulator to deliver the electricity price and service expectations customers have told us they want."

- APN NEWSDESK



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