A dairy near Dubbo had its electricity contract price jump by $40,000 to more than $90,000 a year recently, the state’s peak body for farmers reports.
It’s one example of bill shock the NSW Farmers’ Association is highlighting as it urges action on the issue.
The organisation is calling for a thorough review of competition within NSW retail electricity markets.
The organisationtook its concerns about the impact of electricity price rises on regional users to a NSW Legislative Council inquiry into electricity supply, demand and prices.
The upper house committee was set up in September to investigate the reasons for large increases in the price of electricity, and the impact of the deregulation of electricity prices in 2014.
Appearing before the hearing on Wednesday afternoon, NSW Farmers’ called for the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) to ensure a fair go for electricity consumers.
“Electricity prices have hit the hip pockets of all consumers across NSW,” president Derek Schoen said.
“Regional users have particularly felt the pain of price rises, paying up to 20-25 per cent more for the same electricity use as urban users.”
Business and commercial users have seen price rises above and beyond those seen by households.
“We had a dairy farmer near Dubbo who recently renegotiated her electricity contract,” Mr Schoen said.
“Her contract price jumped from $50,000 per annum to just over $90,000 per annum.
“The difference could have paid for an additional employee on the farm.”
The association argues a lack of competition in retail markets is contributing to spiralling electricity prices.
“The ACCC recently came out and stated that there was insufficient competition in retail electricity markets, and the independent review in Victoria found that retail markets were failing consumers,” Mr Schoen said.
“IPART stands alone in finding that consumers are getting a fair deal from the electricity retailers.”
At the hearing, the association also recommended the NSW government consider a comparison rate and simplified standardised consumer contracts for all retail market offers, allowing for consumers to compare and find the best offer for them.
Its second recommendation was for mandating that all retail electricity bills provide a breakdown of cost components (transmission, generation, retail etc.) to create greater price transparency for consumers.
“In 2017 the Victorian government held reviews on retail electricity markets and secured price decreases from the retailers for many Victorian electricity consumers,” Mr Schoen said.
“We would like to see this played out in NSW for NSW consumers.”