The Australian Government directed the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to undertake the Inquiry into Retail Electricity Pricing to identify the root causes of high electricity prices across the entire electricity supply chain. The final report in July 2018 includes 56 recommendations for improving the operation of the National Electricity Market.
At the COAG Energy Council meeting in August 2018 the Council welcomed the ACCC’s Retail Electricity Pricing Inquiry final report. As the report recommends action on a broad range of fronts falling across state and territory, Commonwealth and cross-jurisdictional issues, Ministers agreed to progress an initial set of 16 cross-jurisdictional recommendations from the Report, including recommendations to reduce the time it takes for consumers to switch retailers, ensure consumers get the information they need before their contract ends and fast tracking consideration of strengthening of penalties and AER’s investigative powers. Ministers agreed to a program of work to consider the remaining recommendations.
Monitoring of prices, profits and margins
The government has directed the ACCC to monitor and report on prices, profits and margins in the supply of electricity in the National Electricity Market. The first report was due to government by 31 March 2019, with reporting to continue at least every 6 months until 2025.
The formal government direction enables the ACCC to use its information gathering powers, meaning electricity providers are legally required to provide the ACCC with information relating to the inquiry.
Under the direction the ACCC may also make recommendations to government on how to improve outcomes for electricity customers.