PIAA: retail electricity market could crash

PIAA: retail electricity market could crash
Industry body tells ACCC unsustainable electricity prices are threat to printing industry

The PIAA has told the ACCC unsustainable increases in electricity prices and unreliable electricity supply are a serious and immediate threat to the survival of print businesses and to print industry jobs.

It cited numerous examples including one of its large Melbourne-based members which faces an increase from $120,000 per annum to $360,000 per annum once its existing contract expires on 31 December 2017, which it pointed out was is a three-fold and totally unsustainable increase.

The comments were made during a submission into an inquiry by the ACCC into retail pricing and practices in the national electricity market. Treasurer Scott Morrison directed the ACCC to investigate this issue.

Andrew Macaulay, CEO, PIAA says, “We have relayed to the ACCC some of the compelling and potentially devastating examples of electricity price increases which members have given us – anything from 5 to 6 per cent, up to 200 per cent. 

 “The ACCC will be concerned to know that many of our members have incurred these increases despite decreasing the amount of electricity they use. For example over a five year period, a regional Queensland member, Lotsa Print and Signage, has paid 27 per cent more for electricity, despite having decreased consumption by 18 per cent.  And that has meant turning air conditioners off – in far north Queensland. Without using less electricity, our member would have been paying 40 per cent more.”

[Related: PIAA defends Finkel report]

Macaulay says, “It is clear that the major electricity suppliers and distribution networks have witnessed their customers’ reduced power consumption and have consequently adjusted their prices to maintain and increase their revenue against the trendline of decreasing power use. This is not sustainable. Either power companies will have to take a hit in value and revenue, or their customers, including our members, will have to do so.

“If the current scenario continues, the consequences for employment will be dire. The sooner that Governments can force or encourage a readjustment to this conduct, the less damage will be done to industries like print, which rely on competitive power prices.”

The PIAA says its submission addresses the impediments that print and associated businesses face in engaging with the electricity market and gives the ACCC evidence from members for the ACCC to use in recommending improved outcomes for print and associated businesses who are trying to choose and buy electricity services.

With this Inquiry, the ACCC cannot intervene in a dispute between an individual consumer and a retail provider. The ACCC’s role is to prosecute an entity which it considers is breaching trade and consumer laws; and to recommend to the Federal Government some changes in retail practices in the national electricity market.

For the past six months the PIAA have been constantly lobbying the government on its unstable energy prices and energy security for its members.

You can read the full submission here.



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