Pollies plans for power prices in regional Queensland
QUEENSLAND’S opposition government say they have a plan to slash electricity prices in the Wide Bay region by $300, but the current Energy Minister said an examination of the policy found it would actually increase prices.
LNP Energy spokesman Michael Hart was in Bundaberg yesterday to explain the plan, saying a Deb Frecklington government would smash Ergon’s monopoly in the region and allow competitors to sell electricity at lower prices.
He said the policy would shave $300 off the average annual electricity bill and has seen success in Brisbane.
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“The Bundaberg region has been battered by coronavirus and will need help to recover,” Mr Hart said.
“The LNP’s power plan will put more money in people’s pockets and cut costs for business by slashing electricity bills in the region.”
It’s a plan the LNP has been advertising for at least the past two years, similarly speaking about cutting annual power bills for regional households by $300 dollars by introducing competition to Ergon in June 2018 and again in September 2019.
Member for Bundaberg David Batt said the state government was using electricity prices as a hidden tax for regional Queenslanders.
“They only have one company – Ergon – that you can use to get your power from in regional Queensland,” Mr Batt said.
“In the southeast corner there’s about 27 different companies you can get your electricity through, saving about $300 a year.
“That’s what we’re guaranteeing for regional Queensland as an LNP government is a $300 guarantee by having other retailers in regional Queensland other than Ergon.”
He said the proof was in the pudding as the strategy had worked in the southeast corner.
“There’s been reports by the Labor Government showing that the same thing would happen, all we’re doing as the LNP is using those reports and saying that we will introduce that,” he said.
Queensland’s Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the Palaszczuk Government was subsidising regional electricity prices by almost half a billion dollars this year so regional families would pay the same as those in the southeast corner.
“The Queensland Productivity Commission examined the LNP’s proposed policy,” Dr Lynham said.
“This policy will add $400 to regional power bills, or require subsidies that will just increase taxes for regional families.”
He said the Affordable Energy Plan had been putting downward pressure on electricity prices for two years, with dividends from the publicly owned energy business, and that prices were tipped to fall again.
“Queensland is also on track to achieve 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030 and
our publicly-owned clean energy generator CleanCo has a remit to bring on an extra 1000 megawatts of clean energy by 2025,” he said.
“It is hypocritical for the LNP Opposition to be talking about power prices at all after power prices went up 43 per cent on their watch.”
And at a press event in Mackay today, Dr Lynham revealed that regional Queensland household power bills were set to fall for the third year in a row from July 1 – from $84 for households and $75 for small businesses – which would help with recovery from COVID-19.
“Today’s news – the biggest drop in 15 years – tops off a range of rebates and relief measures we already have in place to help Queensland recover,” he said.
Electricity prices were released on Thursday by the independent Queensland Competition Authority in its determination of regulated power prices for regional Queensland for 2020-2021.
The state government said the drop in power prices over the past three years represented savings of $166 for a typical regional household and $299 for small businesses.
This comes on top of two individual $50 dividend payments over the past two years and a $200 COVID relief off utility bills and $500 for small businesses.
Dr Lynham said the government had also locked in another two annual $50 dividend payments for the next two years.
“Queensland has the energy trifecta: lowest average wholesale prices on the eastern seaboard, reliable supply and a planned transition to a renewable future,” he said.
And the importance of renewable energy assets was helping keep prices low.
“Our renewable energy revolution is important to power bills, as the QCA notes that more renewable energy is contributing to lower wholesale prices,” he said.
“We can do this because Queenslanders own our energy assets.”