26 July, 2017

Steven Wardill

Courtesy of the Courier Mail

 

THE nation’s competition tsar has urged the break-up of Queensland’s state-owned power generators, insisting it would deliver dividends for electricity users.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims yesterday said the Government controlled two-thirds of Queensland’s generation capacity and this was hurting households and business.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk rejected Mr Sims’ ­assessment, insisting her Government had used its ownership status over the generators to leverage better outcomes for consumers.

The generators have been accused of “gaming” the ­national energy market by using their significant market power to raise prices.

After pocketing record dividends, the Palaszczuk Government ordered the generators to cease their late bidding behaviour, which has had an immediate impact on wholesale prices.

Mr Sims said the impact of the decision demonstrated the market power of the state’s generators.

“No other part of the ­system has that, so it is incredibly concentrated,” he said. “It certainly means prices are higher than they should be.”

Mr Sims said the Government had over-invested in the distribution networks, pocketing guaranteed returns as prices skyrocketed.

“Network charges, be they transmission or the poles and wires in your street, have been too expensive and too much money spent on them which has meant that consumers have had to pay too much to get the power from the generator to their homes,” he said.

However, Ms Palaszczuk said Queenslanders had voted against asset sales at two elections and her Government had ensured the state’s power price rise was the lowest in the country.

“What we have seen is Queensland being the envy of other states pure and ­simple when you look at the double-digit price increases that other states are receiving,” she said.

Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls said Mr Sims had confirmed Labor was using wholesale power prices as a pseudo tax which was killing jobs and hurting families.