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Off the grid: Mr X's plan to shake up carbon and electricity pricing



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For more information contact Sharon Smith on 0433 620 850 or Nick Xenophon on 0411 626 677

23/10/13

OFF THE GRID: MR X’s PLAN TO SHAKE UP CARBON AND ELECTRICTY PRICING

Independent Senator for South Australia, Nick Xenophon, has called for wholesale changes to the National Electricity Market rules and the powers of the Australian Energy Regulator in order to slash unnecessarily high power prices for consumers.

Senator Xenophon has told the Eastern Australia’s Energy Market Outlook conference in Sydney today that now is the ideal time to examine the issue in tandem with scrutiny of the Abbott Government’s carbon policy, to make it both more cost- and environmentally-effective.

“I think it’s important that, while all the carbon policy balls are up in the air, for a thorough examination of how energy networks are spending money on their assets because after all, it’s consumers who ultimately pay for it,” Nick said.

“If instances of excessive or premature spending are found—gold-plating of networks, if you like—then I think those owners should stop making windfall returns.”

Senator Xenophon jointly commissioned an alternative carbon reduction policy approach with then Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull in 2009. The scheme, designed by Frontier Economics, could be modified to work in with the Coalition’s Direct Action policy.

“There’s also a great opportunity here to have a coherent environmental policy that has the potential to have a more ambitious target,” Nick said.

Senator Xenophon also took a swipe at the current Renewable Energy Target framework, which he said “in effect penalised baseload renewables such as geothermal, solar thermal or tidal power because unreliable wind energy was treated on an equal footing”.

Senator Xenophon has foreshadowed that if the Government did not act on network charges, and price gouging by power companies, he would move amendments to the legislative framework governing the National Electricity Market rules and the power of the Australian Energy Regulator.

For a copy of his speech, please email Sharon.Smith@aph.gov.au.