Next wave of energy market reform must enable greater consumer involvement

Appearing before the Senate Committee into electricity prices today, Australian Energy Regulator Chairman, Andrew Reeves, outlined reforms needed to deliver greater benefits for electricity consumers.

Competitive energy markets are essential in the delivery of long term benefits for consumers, the Committee was told.

“Energy market reform to date has focused on the wholesale market and establishment of a national grid network. Reform now needs to bring end customers into the market, to allow customers greater participation and control over the energy services they want,” Mr Reeves said.

“Effective electricity retail competition can deliver significant benefits to consumers, both in terms of more competitive prices and more innovation in what retailers offer to consumers.”

Mr Reeves also highlighted initiatives that could make retail competition work better for consumers.

“A well resourced, national independent consumer advocacy body would ensure that consumers’ views can be represented effectively and that the impacts upon consumers are properly considered,” Mr Reeves said.

“Adoption of the National Energy Retail Law also can make retail competition work better for consumers. By providing reliable information to consumers and making retailers act appropriately, consumers will be able to compare ‘apples with apples’ when considering retailers’ offers.”

Mr Reeves also informed senators of the AER’s strong support for proposed changes to the rules for setting prices for energy network businesses.

“These changes will promote the interests of electricity consumers. While network businesses will be rewarded for undertaking efficient and necessary investment, consumers will not be required to ‘foot the bill’ for inefficient overinvestment in the network,” Mr Reeves told senators.

The AER’s submission to the Senate Select Committee on Electricity Prices is available on the Senate Select Committees website.

The AER is an independent body with responsibility for the economic regulation of the electricity transmission and distribution networks in the national electricity market. It also has responsibilities for retail regulation in some jurisdictions under the National Energy Retail Law.

Issued date: 
27 September 2012
AER reference: 
NR 017/12
Mr Andrew Reeves, AER Chairman 0419 397 956
Duncan Harrod, Media unit (02) 6243 1108 0408 995 408
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